Florida leads the nation when it comes to increasingly long prison sentences, charging minors as adults, releasing inmates with no supervision, and denying ex-inmates the right to vote, even after they’ve served their time, according to numerous recent studies.
With the third largest prison system in the country, Florida taxpayers pay to house more than 100,000 inmates and supervise others at a cost of $2.3 billion per year.
There are 48 major state-run prisons and seven privately run prisons in addition to work-release centers, according to the Florida Department of Corrections website. One of those is Charlotte Correctional Institution, three miles off U.S. 41 on Oil Well Road in Charlotte County.
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While in prison, inmates often lead an idle existence, said Randall C. Berg, executive director of Florida Justice Institute in Miami, a nonprofit law firm that represents the poor and incarcerated.
“We expect these people to succeed when we do nothing for them,” he said. “It’s kind of a joke.
“So while 88 percent of the prison population eventually gets released, they’re serving a long time in the Florida prison system. It’s hard time and it’s unproductive time for which they do not earn much in the way of an education or life skills to live on the outside.”