The Impact of Sentencing Guidelines Policy Reform: Florida's 1994 Sentencing Guidelines

Matthew S. Crow, Florida State University

During the 1993 Florida Legislative session, the Florida Legislature enacted new sentencing guidelines as part of the "Safe Streets Act." The new guidelines, which went into effect on January 1, 1994, were established in response to perceived weaknesses in Florida's original sentencing guidelines created in 1983. These newly created sentencing guidelines were intended to accomplish several goals that the Florida legislature believed would improve perceived weaknesses in sentencing by Florida's courts. Among the goals of the 1994 Sentencing Guidelines were the desire to 1) prioritize prison space for the incarceration of serious and repeat offenders; 2) ensure the neutrality of sentencing with respect to race; 3) equate the sentence with the severity of the primary offense; and 4) increase the severity of the sentence for offenders with longer and more serious prior records. This paper examines whether the revised sentencing policy accomplished the legislature's goals by analyzing the predictors of felony sentences under the 1994 guidelines.

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Updated 05/20/2006