Fla. prison officials say repeat offenders decline

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida prison officials say taxpayers are saving millions of dollars because the number of repeat offenders is declining.

Recidivism has been trending down for years. Department of Corrections Secretary Michael D. Crews on Monday said inmates returning to prison within three years of release dropped from 33.8 percent in 2003 to 27.6 percent in 2008.

"The drop in recidivism means every Florida taxpayer is saving money," Crews said. "We are making some progress with them right now through the programs and education that we have so that when they get out, the first thing they have to do is not recommit crime, but they can go get a job."

Crews also said he supports proposals to increase re-entry facilities but opposes letting private companies run them.

Overall prison admissions declined to 32,279 in the budget year ending June 30. That compares to nearly 35,000 the year before and 41,000 in 2007-08.

Gov. Rick Scott's proposed state budget would use $21.2 million of the savings to pay $1,000 bonuses to guards and probation officers and $500 to other prison workers.

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