State v. Lancaster

Decision Date24 December 1998
Docket NumberNo. 86312.,86312.
Citation731 So.2d 1227
PartiesSTATE of Florida, Petitioner, v. Anthony LANCASTER, Respondent.
CourtFlorida Supreme Court

Robert A. Butterworth, Attorney General, Celia Terenzio, Bureau Chief Assistant Attorney General and Sarah B. Mayer, Assistant Attorney General, West Palm Beach, for Petitioner.

Richard L. Jorandby, Public Defender and Anthony Calvello, Assistant Public Defender, West Palm Beach, for Respondent.

OVERTON, Justice.

The United States Supreme Court vacated our decision in State v. Lancaster, 687 So.2d 1299 (Fla.1997), and remanded the case for further consideration in light of its decision in Lynce v. Mathis, 519 U.S. 433, 117 S.Ct. 891, 137 L.Ed.2d 63 (1997); See Lancaster v. Florida, ___ U.S. ___, 118 S.Ct. 37, 139 L.Ed.2d 5 (1997). This is another case involving the application of ex post facto principles to a legislative change in the gain time statutes. In our prior opinion we found there was no ex post facto violation and that the legislature could constitutionally make a disadvantageous, retroactive change in Administrative Gain Time because overcrowding gain time was designed to alleviate unpredictable prison overcrowding. As explained in more detail below, we find that the United States Supreme Court decision in Lynce mandates a holding that ex post facto principles do apply to overcrowding credits. In this opinion we approve in part and quash in part the Fourth District Court of Appeal's decision in Lancaster v. State, 656 So.2d 533 (Fla. 4th DCA 1995). We further instruct the State to apply the principles expressed in this decision to all similarly situated inmates. We note that this case is distinguishable from Meola v. Department of Corrections, 732 So.2d 1029 (Fla.1998), and Thomas v. Singletary, 729 So.2d 369 (Fla.1998), in which we are denying relief. Meola and Thomas, as well as another gain time case, Gomez v. Singletary, 733 So.2d 499 (Fla.1998)(granting relief) are being released simultaneously with this case.1 At the outset, it must be recognized that neither the legislature, the attorney general, nor this Court has been able to convince the United States Supreme Court that the Ex Post Facto Clause in the United States Constitution does not apply to gain time statutes. In 1979, we held in accordance with the theory and argument of the Attorney General that gain time statutes were a matter of legislative grace. See Harris v. Wainwright, 376 So.2d 855 (Fla.1979). At approximately the same time, we denied another petition relying on Harris. See Weaver v. Graham, 376 So.2d 855 (Fla. 1979). On certiorari to the United States Supreme Court, that Court disagreed and reversed our judgment in Weaver v. Graham, 450 U.S. 24, 101 S.Ct. 960, 67 L.Ed.2d 17 (1981). The Supreme Court found that a legislative act changing the gain time statutes enacted after the commission of a criminal act could not constitutionally be used to extend a defendant's sentence. Id.,450 U.S. 24,101 S.Ct. at 968. More recently, in 1996, we again accepted the State's view that the cancellation of gain time given inmates for the purpose of relieving prison overcrowding did not violate ex post facto principles because overcrowding gain time was not "earned," but rather, was awarded solely for administrative purposes, and therefore an inmate had no vested right in retaining such gain time. See Calamia v. Singletary, 686 So.2d 1337 (Fla.1996). Again that view has been rejected and our opinions in Calamia and this case have been vacated by the United States Supreme Court. See Calamia v. Singletary, 520 U.S. 1141, 117 S.Ct. 1309, 137 L.Ed.2d 473 (1997) (judgment vacated pursuant to Lynce), mandate confirmed to, 694 So.2d 733 (Fla.1997) (relief granted on remand); Lancaster v. Florida, ___ U.S. at ___, 118 S.Ct. at 37.

As noted by the chart in the attached appendix, there have been multiple statutes providing for relief of prison overcrowding which, together with the United States Supreme Court decisions, have caused major administrative problems for the Department of Corrections in calculating a constitutional release date for the inmates in their custody. Given the decisions of the United States Supreme Court, the key date for determination of an inmate's gain time entitlement is the date of the criminal offense.

Lancaster: Factual and Procedural History

Lancaster's underlying offense occurred on May 3, 1987, and he was given an incarcerative sentence followed by a specified period of probation. Due to the award of several types of gain time including Administrative Gain Time and Provisional Credits, Lancaster was released in 1991 to begin service of the probationary portion of his sentence. Lancaster violated his probation and it was revoked in 1994. Lancaster was then resentenced. At that time, Lancaster was given credit for his previously awarded incentive and basic gain time (because his offense occurred before October 1, 1989, the effective date of the amendment to the gain time forfeiture statutes providing for forfeiture of all gain time upon the revocation of probation, community control or Provisional Release). See §§ 944.28(1), 948.06(6), Fla. Stat. (1989); State v. Green, 547 So.2d 925 (Fla.1989)(concerning the need for statutory authority for gain time forfeiture), modified, Dowdy v. Singletary, 704 So.2d 1052 (Fla.1998).

The significant fact for this case, however, is that Lancaster was not given credit for his previously awarded overcrowding gain time (Administrative Gain Time and Provisional Credits). He was not given credit because, in accordance with our decision in Tripp v. State, 622 So.2d 941, 942 n. 2 (Fla.1993),2 overcrowding gain time was not included under the general rubric of "gain time" which an inmate was entitled to under our prior opinion in State v. Green, 547 So.2d 925 (Fla.1989). These decisions were rendered prior to the United States Supreme Court decision in Lynce.

The Fourth District Court in its appeal of this case held that Lancaster had a vested right in the benefits of the Administrative Gain Time statute which was in effect at the time of the offense. Lancaster v. State, 656 So.2d 533 (Fla. 4th DCA 1995),quashed,687 So.2d 1299 (Fla.),vacated, ___ U.S. ___, 118 S.Ct. 37, 139 L.Ed.2d 5 (1997). On review of that decision, we found conflict3 between the Fourth District's decision in Lancaster and our decision in Orosz v. Singletary, 655 So.2d 1112 (Fla.1995),superseded by 693 So.2d 538 (Fla.1997)(on rehearing). We quashed the Fourth District's decision explaining that it had misinterpreted our decision in Orosz and the holdings in several other cases. See Lancaster, 687 So.2d at 1300; see also Art. I, § 10, Fla. Const.; U.S. Const. art. I, § 10. We clarified that our holding in Orosz was narrow and only stood for the proposition that for a certain interval of time, the State lost its statutory authority to combine consecutive sentences into a single term (or overall sentence) for the purpose of awarding or forfeiting gain time. Lancaster, 687 So.2d at 1299. We further indicated that Orosz only applied to an inmate who: (1) committed an offense during the interval between July 1, 1978, and June 16, 1983; (2) was in service of a sentence at the time of the offense; (3) was given a sentence to run consecutively to the sentence for the previous offense; and (4) had completed the sentence for the previous offense before June 17, 1993. We also reaffirmed our position that overcrowding gain time was not subject to the Ex Post Facto Clause, citing to our decision in Calamia v. Singletary, 686 So.2d 1337 (Fla.1996). See also Lancaster, 687 So.2d at 1299-1300.

It is clear that our previous opinion in this case consisted of two parts. The first part clarified the holding in Orosz and the second part reaffirmed our original decision in Calamia. Our opinion in Orosz was not based on ex post facto principles, but rather on statutes concerning the appropriate calculation of consecutive sentences. It is important to emphasize that the clarification of Orosz in our original Lancaster opinion is unaffected by this decision. Further, we expressly reaffirm that clarification.

As noted, the second part of our decision in Lancaster held that there was no constitutional violation when inmates were not given credit for the Administrative Gain Time and Provisional Credits awarded during the incarcerative portion of their initial sentences (before their probation revocation) because such overcrowding gain time was not subject to the Ex Post Facto Clause. That part of our prior opinion is clearly affected by Lynce, as set forth below.

Application of Lynce to Lancaster

Three statutes were enacted after the commission of Lancaster's criminal offense which could be asserted as a legal basis to cancel Lancaster's overcrowding gain time. The first two were 1989 amendments to sections 948.06 and 944.28(1). See § 944.28(1); 948.06(6), Fla. Stat. (1989). They added revocation of probation, community control, and provisional release to the circumstances permitting gain time forfeiture. Id. The third statute was section 944.278, Florida Statutes (1993), which was part of the act known as the "Safe Streets Initiative" enacted on June 17, 1993. It canceled credits for inmates in custody or upon their return to custody.

The State asserts that when Lancaster was returned to prison in 1994, the State did not apply section 944.278 (the Safe Streets Initiative) to Lancaster to cancel his overcrowding gain time because before Lancaster was returned to prison, i.e., at resentencing, Lancaster had already been denied credit for his overcrowding gain time. Therefore, the State maintains that there were no overcrowding credits to cancel under section 944.278. The State alleges, however, that overcrowding gain time is still distinguishable from "regular" (basic and incentive) gain time and that although there is no viable statutory authority for its forfeiture...

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14 cases
  • Andrews v. Florida Parole Com'n
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • 18 Octubre 2000
    ...statutory interpretation frequently present issues upon which even the most seasoned appellate judges often disagree. See State v. Lancaster, 731 So.2d 1227 (Fla.1998) (noting historic differences of opinion between Florida Supreme Court and United States Supreme Court on ex post facto issu......
  • Leftwich v. Fla. Dep't of Corr.
    • United States
    • Florida Supreme Court
    • 18 Septiembre 2014
    ...Marks in Mayes v. Moore, 827 So.2d 967, 973 (Fla.2002), where two inmates challenged the retroactive application of State v. Lancaster, 731 So.2d 1227 (Fla.1998). In Lancaster, this Court held that a 1988 statute provided the DOC with the authority to cancel provisional credits or other ove......
  • Meola v. Department of Corrections
    • United States
    • Florida Supreme Court
    • 24 Diciembre 1998
    ...statutes which effectively made the petitioners ineligible to receive any credits constituted an ex post facto violation. State v. Lancaster, 731 So.2d 1227 (Fla. 1998), addresses gain time in the context of prisoners who had their Administrative Gain Time or Provisional Credits forfeited u......
  • Mayes v. Moore
    • United States
    • Florida Supreme Court
    • 19 Septiembre 2002
    ...gain time (including provisional credits) upon supervision revocation until 1998 when this Court issued its decision in State v. Lancaster, 731 So.2d 1227 (Fla.1998). That being so, they argue, since petitioners' offenses were committed prior to that date, forfeiture of their gain time cons......
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