Monday, August 3, 2015

Further Mitigation of a Youthful Offender Sentence Through Completion of a Basic Training “Boot Camp” Program

Hon. William H. Burgess, III, B.C.S.

A way of further mitigation of a Youthful Offender (YO) sentence is through successful completion of a basic training, or “boot camp,” program run by the Department of Corrections (DOC), or a county of the state, authorized under section 958.04(4).1

DOC is required to develop and implement a basic training program for youthful offenders sentenced or classified by the department as youthful offenders pursuant to chapter 958.  The period of time to be served at the basic training program must be no less than 120 days.2  The program is required to include marching drills, calisthenics, a rigid dress code, manual labor assignments, physical training with obstacle courses, training in decisionmaking and personal development, high school equivalency diploma and adult basic education courses, and drug counseling and other rehabilitation programs.3

Upon receipt of youthful offenders, DOC is required to screen offenders for the basic training program.  To participate, an offender must have no physical limitations that preclude participation in strenuous activity, must not be impaired, and must not have been previously incarcerated in a state or federal correctional facility.  In screening offenders for the basic training program, the department must consider the offender’s criminal history and the possible rehabilitative benefits of “shock” incarceration.  If an offender meets the specified criteria and space is available, the DOC must request, in writing from the sentencing court, approval for the offender to participate in the basic training program.  If the person is classified by the department as a youthful offender and the department is requesting approval from the sentencing court for placement in the program, the department must, at the same time, notify the state attorney that the offender is being considered for placement in the basic training program.  The notice must explain that the purpose of such placement is diversion from lengthy incarceration when a short “shock” incarceration could produce the same deterrent effect, and that the state attorney may, within 14 days after the mailing of the notice, notify the sentencing court in writing of objections, if any, to the placement of the offender in the basic training program.  The sentencing court must notify the department in writing of placement approval no later than 21 days after receipt of the department’s request for placement of the youthful offender in the basic training program.  Failure to notify the department within 21 days shall be considered an approval by the sentencing court for placing the youthful offender in the basic training program.  Each state attorney may develop procedures for notifying the victim that the offender is being considered for placement in the basic training program.4


The program must provide a short incarceration period of rigorous training to offenders who require a greater degree of supervision than community control or probation provides.  Basic training programs may be operated in secure areas in or adjacent to an adult institution notwithstanding section 958.11.  The program is not intended to divert offenders away from probation or community control but to divert them from long periods of incarceration when a short “shock” incarceration could produce the same deterrent effect.5

Upon admittance to the department, an educational and substance abuse assessment must be performed on each youthful offender.  Upon admittance to the basic training program, each offender must have a full substance abuse assessment to determine the offender’s need for substance abuse treatment.  The educational assessment must be accomplished through the aid of the Test of Adult Basic Education or any other testing instrument approved by the Department of Education, as appropriate.  Each offender who has not obtained a high school diploma must be enrolled in an adult education program designed to aid the offender in improving his or her academic skills and earning a high school diploma.  Further assessments of the prior vocational skills and future career education must be provided to the offender.  A periodic evaluation must be made to assess the progress of each offender, and upon completion of the basic training program the assessment and information from the department’s record of each offender must be transferred to the appropriate community residential program.6

If an offender in the basic training program becomes unmanageable, DOC may revoke the offender’s gain-time and place the offender in disciplinary confinement for up to 30 days.  Upon completion of the disciplinary process, the offender must be readmitted to the basic training program, except for an offender who has committed or threatened to commit a violent act.  If the offender is terminated from the program, DOC may place the offender in the general population to complete the remainder of the offender’s sentence.  Any period of time in which the offender is unable to participate in the basic training activities may be excluded from the specified time requirements in the program.7  If the offender is unable to participate in the basic training activities due to medical reasons, certified medical personnel shall examine the offender and shall consult with the basic training program director concerning the offender’s termination from the program.8

The portion of the sentence served before placement in the basic training program may not be counted toward program completion. DOC must submit a report to the court at least 30 days before the youthful offender is scheduled to complete the basic training program.  The report must describe the offender’s performance in the basic training program.  If the youthful offender’s performance is satisfactory, the court must issue an order modifying the sentence imposed and place the offender on probation subject to the offender successfully completing the remainder of the basic training program.  The term of probation may include placement in a community residential program.  If the offender violates the conditions of probation, the court may revoke probation and impose any sentence that it might have originally imposed.9

Upon completing the basic training program, an offender must be transferred to a community residential program and reside there for a term designated by DOC.  If the basic training program director determines that the offender is not suitable for the community residential program but is suitable for an alternative postrelease program or release plan, within 30 days prior to program completion DOC must evaluate the offender’s needs and determine an alternative postrelease program or plan.  DOC’s consideration must include, but not be limited to, the offender’s employment, residence, family situation, and probation or post-release supervision obligations.  Upon the approval of DOC, the offender must be released to an alternative post-release program or plan.10

While in the community residential program, as appropriate, the offender must engage in gainful employment, and if any, must pay restitution to the victim.  If appropriate, the offender may enroll in substance abuse counseling, and if suitable, must enroll in a high school equivalency diploma or adult basic education class for the purpose of attaining a high school diploma.  Upon release from the community residential program, the offender must remain on probation, or other post-release supervision, and abide by the conditions of the offender’s probation or post-release supervision.  If, upon transfer from the community residential program, the offender has not completed the enrolled educational program, the offender must continue the educational program until completed.  If the offender fails to complete the program, DOC may request the court or the control release authority to execute an order returning the offender back to the community residential program until completion of the program.11

The Assistant Secretary for Youthful Offenders is required to continuously screen all institutions, facilities, and programs for any inmate who meets the eligibility requirements for youthful offender designation specified in section 958.04, whose age does not exceed 24 years.  DOC may classify and assign as a youthful offender any inmate who meets the criteria of section 958.04.12  A youthful offender who is designated as such by the department and assigned to the basic training program must be eligible for control release pursuant to section 947.146.13  DOC must work cooperatively with the Control Release Authority or the Florida Commission on Offender Review to effect the release of an offender who has successfully completed the requirements of the basic training program.14  Upon an offender’s completion of the basic training program, DOC must submit a report to the releasing authority that describes the offender’s performance.  If the performance has been satisfactory, the release authority is required to establish a release date that is within 30 days following program completion.  As a condition of release, the offender must be placed in a community residential program as provided in section 958.045 or on community supervision as provided in chapter 947, and must be subject to the conditions established therefor.15

An offender in the basic training program is subject to rules of conduct established by DOC and may have sanctions imposed, including loss of privileges, restrictions, disciplinary confinement, alteration of release plans, or other program modifications in keeping with the nature and gravity of the program violation.  Administrative or protective confinement, as necessary, may be imposed.16  DOC may establish a system of incentives within the basic training program which the department may use to promote participation in rehabilitative programs and the orderly operation of institutions and facilities.17

In counties where there are county-operated youthful offender boot camp programs, other than boot camps described in section 958.04, the court may sentence a youthful offender to such a boot camp.  In county-operated youthful offender boot camp programs, juvenile offenders must not be commingled with youthful offenders.18


FOOTNOTES

1§ 958.04(4), Fla. Stat.

2§ 958.045(1), Fla. Stat.

3§ 958.045(1)(a), Fla. Stat.

4§ 958.045(2), Fla. Stat.

5§ 958.045(3), Fla. Stat.

6§ 958.045(4), Fla. Stat.

7§ 958.045(5)(a), Fla. Stat.

8§ 958.045(5)(b), Fla. Stat.

9§ 958.045(5)(c), Fla. Stat.

10§ 958.045(6)(a), Fla. Stat.

11§ 958.045(6)(b), Fla. Stat.

12§ 958.045(8)(a), Fla. Stat.

13§ 958.045(8)(b), Fla. Stat.

14§ 958.045(8)(c), Fla. Stat.

15§ 958.045(8)(d), Fla. Stat.

16§ 958.045(12), Fla. Stat.

17§ 958.045(13), Fla. Stat.

18§ 958.046, Fla. Stat.

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