Is Minimum Sentencing In the Prison Releasee Reoffender Punishment Act Constitutional ?

The Court Held That PRRPA Establishes a Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Scheme and is Not Unconstitutional: In State v. Cotton, 769 So. 2d 345 (Fla. 2000), the court specifically held that the Prison Releasee Reoffender Punishment Act (PRRPA) establishes a mandatory minimum sentencing scheme" and the act "is not unconstitutional on its face as violative of separation of powers principles." 769 So. 2d at 354. Further, we noted: Even when the Act is properly viewed as a mandatory minimum statute, its effect is to establish a sentencing "floor." If a defendant is eligible for a harsher sentence "pursuant to [the habitual offender statute] or any other provision of law," the court may, in its discretion, impose the harsher sentence. Id. (quoting 775.082(8)(c), Fla. Stat. (1997)). Finally, we enumerated specific findings that were contemplated by the Legislature: In passing the Act, the Legislature found that: (1) recent court decisions have mandated the early release of violent felony offenders; (2) the people of the State and its visitors deserve public safety and protection from violent felony offenders who have previously been sentenced to prison and who continue to prey on society by reoffending; (3) "the best deterrent to prevent prison releasees from committing future crimes is to require that any releasee who commits new serious felonies must be sentenced to the maximum term of incarceration allowed by law, and must serve 100 percent of the court-imposed sentence." Id. at 355.