In 1983, Florida lawmakers eliminated parole, the practice of allowing prisoners to gain time off their sentences for working on their education and participating in rehabilitation programs.

In 2020, 41 years after Florida’s first mandatory minimum laws and 37 years after parole was eliminated, the state’s elderly incarcerated population had grown by 327 percent. Florida remains one of only three states that prohibit people from gaining time off their sentence by completing educational courses and participating in rehabilitative programs. Consequently, the elimination of parole, compounded by longer prison sentences, has contributed to the state’s fiscal ups and downs, such as the 2018 budget deficit experienced by the Department of Corrections (DOC).

Florida lawmakers should end mandatory minimum sentences and create opportunities for people to be released from prison after showing they have been rehabilitated.