The Cost of Life

At Society-First, we wish to shed light on the origin and the impact of Florida's "Life" sentence. As a victim, you may ask, "Why should we care about those who did not care about us?" We recognize this as a compelling argument, but we also recognize that our great country was never meant to play the role of a victim.
In 2020 the number of citizens who received a Life sentence was in the mid 10 thousand. Fast forward to mid-2023, and that number has risen to almost 14 thousand men, women, and children sentenced to die in Florida's prisons.

Is Too Costly?

At Society-First, we wish to shed light on the origin and the impact of Florida's "Life"sentence. As a victim, you may ask, "Why should we care about those who did not care about us?" We recognize this as a compelling argument, but we also recognize that our great country was never meant to play the role of a victim.

America has become a culture that promulgates punishment over rehabilitation. As a society, we need to find a solution to end the victimization of our communities and it is clear that punishment alone is not the answer. We have a culture that provides little hope for people who have caused harm and victims which results in us paying for our own victimization. It has become a self-inflicting wound that has crippled us for far too long.

The trail of monies spent on life sentences has created a continual mountain slide of expense, that feeds off of our communities. Just this year alone, over two billion dollars is being spent on Florida's mass incarceration machine, yet these costs have solved none of the multiplying growth in criminality. We should find this practice disturbing and call for necessary action and immediate reform.

Even if we operated under an "eye for an eye" philosophy, the only criminal activity that we believe should take someone's life is the taking of life, yet Florida has over 20,000 thousand of its citizens serving Life or Virtual Life sentences. The cost alone for these 20,000 Lifers taken at a low of $20,000.00 a year equates to the taxpayers paying a whopping $400 million dollars a year, which turns into $4 billion dollars every ten years.

This is without factoring in all of the hidden costs which could reach as high as $400 billion dollars per year (nationwide). Estimated costs borne by incarceration:
* Lost wages while imprisoned ($70.5 billion)
* Reduced lifetime earnings ($230 billion)

* Nonfatal injuries sustained in prison ($28 billion)
* Higher mortality rates of former prisoners ($62.6 billion)* Fatal injuries to prisons ($1.7 billion)

Beyond the direct costs to prisoners, family members, and society can, in general, carry more financial burden in:
* Visitation costs ($0.8 billion)
* Adverse health effects ($10.2 billion

* Infant mortality ($1.2 billion)
* Children's education level and subsequent wages as an adult ($30 billion)
* Children rendered homeless by imprisonment ($0.9 billion)
* Homeless of former prisoners ($2.2 billion)
* Decreased property value ($11 billion)
* Divorce ($17.7 billion)
* Reduced marriage ($9 billion)
* Child welfare ($5.3 billion)

(The Economic Burden of Incarceration in the US, from the Institute for Advancing JusticeResearch and Innovation, George Warren Brown School of Social Work, October 2016.)

The archaic practice of giving out life sentences is something that will erode the foundation of any civilized society. A lack of forgiveness and mercy in today’s society ultimately weakens it as a whole. To spend the rest of one's life (40-80 years in prison) for a criminal act that many times defines one day of one's life offers little chance for redemption. A world without redemption is a world without change.

One cannot help but cringe when looking at the ugly truth of the actual historical reasoning behind the origin of Florida's "Life" sentence. An outdated draconian law that goes back to 1866 as the crop holders of yesterday wanted to reintegrate slavery back into their society. Sadly, this belief system is still alive in today's culture and though crop holders are basically a thing of the past, shareholders are not.

More Problems

11

Volunteers

The need for those in prison to receive as much help as they can to change is a need that will require many volunteers to be able to add to these offenders' lives. A requirement that is sorely lacking in Florida's prison system and just like almost everything about the prison system, it is set up to fail in this area.

3

Gangs

Whether it is in or out of prison, gangs have become one of the leading causes of the growing violence, drugs, and the cultivation of criminality that plagues our society. As they grow, our chances of becoming a victim grow and this is why finding a solution to this problem needs to be one of our biggest agendas in the realm of criminal justice reform.

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Mental Health

In today's prison system, there is a detachment in the mental health field as the code of the FDC has created a gang-like mentality within all staff. A code that says "We never stand alone" has translated into an "it's us against them" mentality.