The Florida Legislature
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Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability

Review of Prison Population Forecasting in Florida , Report No. 95-26, January 1996

  • The Criminal Justice Estimating Conference develops forecasts of the state prison population. The Conference makes baseline forecasts that estimate the projected prison population based upon existing criminal justice policies, and the Conference makes impact forecasts to estimate the likely impact of proposed changes to criminal justice policies.
  • The Conference's one-year forecasts have overestimated actual prison admissions by an average of about 12% over the past 5 years. The primary cause of these overestimates is a limitation of trend analysis techniques to produce reliable forecasts when there have been dramatic trend changes. Florida experienced dramatic increases in the prison admissions from 1985 to 1990, but the number of admissions decreased from 1990 to 1995.
  • Problems with the accuracy of some of the data used by the Conference resulted in an overestimate of the impact of legislation considered during the 1995 Legislative session. In addition, we noted that the Conference has not fully documented its forecast procedures and techniques, and that the Conference does not articulate information about the assumptions behind its forecasts in its reports.

    Copies of this report in print or alternate accessible format may be obtained by telephone (850/488-0021), by FAX (850/487-9213), in person, or by mail (OPPAGA Report Production, Claude Pepper Building, Room 312, 111 W. Madison St., Tallahassee, FL 32399-1475).
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