Many people wonder how long of a prison sentence someone will have to serve in the State of Florida. Typically, a person will serve 85% of their sentence if they earn all of their “good and gain time.” However, if someone has been sentenced to life in prison, they will serve life in prison.
Parole was officially abolished for all those sentenced sentenced after 1995, so the best hope is for earning as much “good and gain time” as possible.
We occasionally get asked about the Florida Legislature passing a bill that says prisoners will only have to serve 65% of their prison sentence. This, however, seems to be a continuous and ongoing rumor that circulates through the jails and prisons.
Below is a helpful guide from the Florida Department of Corrections, detailing the 85% rule, the average prison time served, and the details behind parole.
If you or a loved one is facing the possibility of prison, contact Greater Tampa Law, P.L. Your Bridge to Justice.
Most Florida Inmates
Florida Department of Corrections
Inmates will serve a Minimum of 85%
- Those sentenced to prison in Florida who committed their crimes on or after October 1, 1995 will serve a minimum of 85% of their sentences. This applies to all inmates, regardless of the type of crime they committed. The vast majority of inmates in prison have been sentenced under the 85% law. Of the 8,104 inmates released from October 1, 2013 through December 31, 2013, 7,967 or 98.3% were sentenced under the 85% law, and 137 (1.7%) were not. This 98.3% represents only those inmates who have every component of their sentence covered by the 85% law.
|Sample Sentences and Estimated Time Served|
They Will Serve*
|Murder||Life||Life in Prison|
|Sexual Assault||15 years||12.8 years|
|Burglary||10 years||8.5 years|
|Drug Possession||3 years||2.6 years|
|*Minus any county jail time already served.|
- While the vast majority of the inmates being released from prison today have been sentenced under the 85% law, those who committed their crimes prior to October 1, 1995 have no such restrictions. The following bar chart shows the average percentage of prison sentence being served by everyone released from prison, regardless of when their crime was committed. For the last five years, inmates released from Florida prisons have actually served MORE than 85% of their sentences, on average.
When calculating how much time an inmate will serve in prison you must first calculate 85% of his or her sentence, and then subtract any county jail time already served.
Average Percentage of Sentence Served by Released Inmates
A Life Sentence Means Life
- Persons receiving a life sentence for crimes committed on or after October 1, 1995, will serve a life sentence.
Percent of Inmates in Florida Prisons on January 31, 2014 with Life Sentences
Less than 1% Paroled Yearly
- Parole in Florida was eliminated for non-capital felonies committed on or after July 1, 1984. Capital felonies resulting in a life sentence (instead of the death penalty) remained eligible for parole after serving a mandatory 25-year term. Legislative action taken May 24, 1994, and October 1, 1995, effectively eliminated parole for all capital offenses as well. Of the 100,129 inmates in Florida prisons on January 31, 2014, slightly more than 4,000 of them remain parole eligible. Only 27 of the 35,670 inmates released from Florida prisons from January 1, 2013 – January 31, 2014 were paroled. Another 10 of them had their parole reinstated.
Less than One Percent of Inmates Released from January 2013 – January 31, 2014 were Paroled
- ATTENTION VICTIMS: For more information about offenders in the custody of the Florida Department of Corrections, referral services,or restitution, call toll free 1-877-884-2846, or (850) 488-9166, or go to www.dc.state.fl.us/oth/victasst/index.html. Victims, their families and friends can also call our anonymous VINE service at 1-877-846-3435 (toll free, 24 hours) or visit the VINE at www.vinelink.com to learn inmates’ locations and release dates, and to be notified of any change in an inmate’s status (transfer, out to court, escape, release, death, etc.) You can also utilize the Local Victim Resources tab to locate available victim services organizations and programs throughout the state. All VINE print material has been added to the page and is in PDF form for printing.
- STAY INFORMED: If you or a family member is a victim of an inmate in our custody, please notify Victim Services at Victim.Services@mail.dc.state.fl.us if you move, change your phone number or have an email you wish us to use in order to make contact with you. Victim Services sends release notices to victims within 90 days of the inmates release. Help us make sure you are notified.
Average Years Served by Released Inmates
What’s this about a 65% of sentence served law?
Though this rumor has persisted for years, there has never been a law requiring inmates to serve only 65% of their sentences, though periodically bills to this effect are proposed to the Legislature. Effective October 1, 1995, section 944.275, Florida Statutes was amended and provides that a sentence imposed for an offense on or after October 1, 1995 cannot end, terminate or expire prior to the offender having satisfied 85% of the term imposed. In addition, the statute provides that the offender may earn monthly awards of incentive gain-time up to 10 days per month. However, when the inmate’s tentative release date becomes equivalent to the 85% minimum service date, the inmate is prohibited from earning further gain-time awards.
What are the average sentences for those on Community Supervision,
such as probation? (Averages as of January 31, 2014)
Type of Supervision
Average Sentence Length in Years *
|Drug Offender Probation||
|Other Post-Prison Release||
|Overall Average Supervision Sentence||
* Sentence lengths of 50 years to life are coded as 50 years for calculations of averages.
|This brochure was produced by the Florida Department of
Corrections Bureau of Research
and Data Analysis. For more information, call (850) 717-3649 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.