Florida prison population to remain above 95,000

Amid widespread talk about revamping criminal sentencing, Florida's prison population is expected to remain above 95,000 inmates in the coming years, according to new estimates released by state analysts.

Prisons had 95,613 inmates at the end of June, a number that is expected to remain virtually flat as of June 2020. The number is projected to dip slightly in June 2021 and then gradually increase in the following years, according to an executive summary of a report by the Criminal Justice Estimating Conference.

The number of inmates is expected to hit 96,097 in June 2023 and reach 96,940 in June 2025.

"Collectively, these changes show declines and increases in the prison population that are well less than 1 percent each year, leading to a total change over the entire forecast horizon of 1.4 percent," the executive summary said.

The analysts looked at a series of trends and said "drugs and/or weapons offenses have shown consistent growth that has contributed to the eventual rise in new commitments."

Lawmakers discussed a series of proposals this year to revamp criminal sentencing. Gov. Ron DeSantis last month signed a bill (HB 7125) that, in part, raised a threshold triggering felony theft charges from $300 to $750.