A study by Pew Charitable Trusts finds that Florida leads all states in so-called “max-outs,” the number of prison inmates who serve their full sentences and are released to the community with no supervision or support, the Miami Herald reports. A high percentage of those inmates commit new crimes and are sent back behind bars at an enormous cost to taxpayers. Pew’s report spans 1990 to 2012. Max-out rates rose in 23 states during that period, and accounted for more than four of every 10 releases in nine states with Florida having the most. Overall, the report said, 22 percent of state prisoners who maxed out their sentences were released without supervision in 2012.
Florida was followed by Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Utah. The fewest max-outs during that period were in Oregon, California, Arkansas, Wisconsin and New Hampshire. Florida abolished parole in 1983 and imposed rigid sentencing guidelines, after passage of a 1995 law that required most inmates to serve at least 85 percent of their sentences. Since passage of the so-called STOP law, or Stop Turning Out Prisoners, max-outs in Florida have risen sharply, Pew found. Pew recommends some period of supervised release for all offenders, and tailoring supervision conditions to risk and need.