Prison Officials Respond to the Increase in Prison Population

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They say tougher sentencing guidelines are keeping more inmates behind bars longer, and they attribute those tougher guidelines to the drop in Florida's crime rate.

Sterling Ivey is a spokesman for the Florida Department of Corrections.

He says the tough sentencing laws have driven the crime rate down to the lowest level since the 1970's.

He says being tough on crime means people stay in prison longer.

Ivey says that so far the corrections system has been able to meet the additional financial burdens, even with recent budget cuts.

He says the state may have to ask for more funding next year depending on prison population projections that are scheduled to be released in September.