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Florida Sheriffs Association Launches Research Institute with Truth in Sentencing Report

January 28, 2020

Today, the Florida Sheriffs Association (FSA) and more than 30 Florida sheriffs gathered at the Florida Capitol to launch the Florida Sheriffs Research Institute and to release a report on Truth in Sentencing – Florida’s law that ensures all state inmates must serve at least 85% of their court imposed sentence in state prison. The Florida Sheriffs Research Institute was established to conduct comprehensive research on a variety of topics that affect public safety and our communities. The Institute is dedicated to serving Florida’s sheriffs through data collection, analysis, and rigorous research without the influence of outside special interests.

The data in the report could not be clearer. Florida’s 85% Truth in Sentencing laws coupled with the state’s incarceration model has resulted in a lower crime rate and lower incarceration rate than many other states. Despite being the third largest in the U.S., with an additional annual tourist population of almost 125 million visitors, Florida’s crime rate and incarceration rate are significantly lower than many smaller states. In addition, the notion that Florida’s prisons are overcrowded with first-time, nonviolent offenders is not reflected in the data.

“The FSA Research Institute is significant for our state so we can finally have analysis done that makes certain the full impact of our current laws is properly assessed,” said FSA President and Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri. “What our first report finds is that the current research tells us that the 85% time-served law has been associated with significant reductions in the likelihood of recidivism. Truth in Sentencing works, and it is making our communities safer with less crime and fewer victims.”

“This report demonstrates truth in sentencing is effective and proven,” said FSA’s Legislative Chair and Manatee County Sheriff Charles Wells. “Due to term limits, legislators need to know why these laws were put in place and why Florida’s current incarceration model sets the standard. We have witnessed a 67% decline in the rate of crime since inmates started serving at least 85% of their prison sentences.”

The FSA Research Institute will be led by Dr. Steven Hougland, a retired law enforcement officer (30 years), and former Associate Professor of criminal justice. Dr. Hougland is a graduate of the University of Central Florida, where he also received his Ph.D. in Public Affairs. He has published numerous research articles and is a co-author of The SAGE Guide to Writing in Criminal Justice, The SAGE Guide to Writing in Policing, The SAGE Guide to Writing in Corrections, and The SAGE Guide to Writing in Research Methods.

To read the full report, please visit:

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Florida Sheriffs Association: 
The Florida Sheriffs Association is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) corporation made up of the 67 Sheriffs of Florida, approximately 2,500 business leaders and 83,000 citizens throughout the state. Founded in 1893, FSA has steadfastly served the citizens of Florida by supporting the needs of the state's law enforcement community. Through the Florida Sheriffs Association, Sheriffs are given a forum to address lawmakers to push for positive changes in Florida’s public safety arena. FSA also provides Sheriffs' Offices much-needed programs such as affordable training, special task forces and legislative and legal services.  Dedicated to the prevention of juvenile delinquency and the development of lawful, productive citizens, FSA has established and funded the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches with facilities throughout the state to help restore hope, fulfill dreams, and prepare boys and girls for the future. It has grown to be one of the largest and most successful state law enforcement associations in the nation.