How to Leave Prison Early: Florida Clemency, Parole and Work Release
By Reggie Garcia
Reviewed by Carla M. Newman
How to Leave Prison Early is the ultimate user guide to navigate the State of Florida clemency, parole, and work release process. The author provides a narrative highlighting the processes in a simple yet informative fashion. The information contained within the book is especially helpful for practitioners as it contains contact information for various agencies involved in the clemency, parole, and work release process as well as practical tips that the author has expounded from his own practice. The book begins with an informative tone that allows the reader to develop a deeper understanding of how the system operates, then develops and provides biographical summaries of the decisionmakers of the Florida Commission on Offender Review, the governor, and the cabinet. The biographical information provides a great snapshot into the professional credentials of the individuals involved in the decision-making process.
One of the most interesting chapters includes a case study of Felix Garcia. The case study is striking as the facts create questions in the reader’s mind as to whether justice has been served by Felix Garcia’s incarceration. The chapter ends with Garcia’s prison resume highlighting his skills, training, and educational accomplishments obtained during his incarceration. The resume is helpful to practitioners as it gives the reader a great idea of accomplishments that may be noteworthy as the inmate seeks clemency or parole. The book contains practical, useful information in terms of navigating early release. One point of interest was the discussion of conditional medical release for inmates with a permanent incapacity or illness. The chapter contains information about what the Florida Department of Corrections referral must include and identified steps that should be taken prior to requesting conditional medical release. The statistics also provide a poignant look into the number of inmates in Florida over the age of 50 with chronic illnesses. The statistics reflect the need for practitioners to be aware of the requirements and procedure for requesting conditional medical release.
The chapter, “Good for Florida’s Inmates and Taxpayers,” sheds light on the cost of incarceration with consideration of the State of Florida budget for the prison system. The chapter provides statistical data indicating that the state has the third largest state-prison system in the country. The book goes on to identify the five policy goals of work release and identifies steps that inmates can take to increase their chances of being selected.
I enjoyed the discussion of the public safety’s seven factors in which the author highlights questions that must be considered prior to approval that hinge on the nature of the crime resulting in incarceration, arrest history, disciplinary reports, and substance abuse history. Overall, the book is extremely enjoyable as it was a comprehensive guide to work release, parole and clemency — processes that are not widely understood. The book includes beneficial information for those interested in the interworking of the Florida Department of Corrections with respect to early release from incarceration, and is a great read for anyone: practitioner, member of the public, or inmate who is attempting to develop a foundation of understanding of the clemency parole and work release process.
Carla M. Newman is an assistant state attorney in the Eighth Judicial Circuit.