November 18, 2019
Governor Ron DeSantis’ Bolder, Brighter, Better Future Budget Recommendations
Fund Critical Investments in Corrections and Public Safety
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Today, Governor Ron DeSantis released his budget recommendations for the Florida Department of Corrections (FDC). These budget recommendations fund critical public safety priorities and significant improvements to ensure the safe and secure operation of Florida’s correctional system.
“Appropriately funding the Department of Corrections is a public safety priority. My budget recommendations focus on targeted steps to improve the Department’s operations and protect Florida communities,” Governor Ron DeSantis said. “Building on last year’s recruitment initiative by expanding the hiring age, my budget funds staff retention solutions that will create safer prisons and have a positive impact on every area of the Department. Further, these recommendations expand reentry initiatives, which will reduce recidivism, improve lives and properly prepare individuals returning to our communities.”
“Governor DeSantis’ budget recommendations are a testament to his dedication to public safety and his recognition of our recruitment and retention challenges. His plan will not only allow us to address staffing and increase safety, but it will enable us to provide more opportunities for meaningful programing which we know is necessary for the success of those leaving our custody.” Secretary Mark Inch said, “The Governor’s support of these critical funding needs is instrumental in setting us on a positive trajectory over the coming years.”
Governor DeSantis’ FDC Budget Recommendations Include:
$96.4 Million to Improve Operations and Create Safer Correctional Facilities
- Targeted Retention Incentives to Improve Staffing, $60.6 Million: The Department proposes a targeted retention pay step plan which would apply to Correctional Officer to Colonel, Correctional Probation Officer to Correctional Probation Senior Supervisor, and Inspector to Inspector Supervisor position classes. The plan addresses exceptionally high turnover rates by providing a $1,500 pay increase at two years of service and a $2,500 increase at five years of service for included classes.
- 8.5-Hour Shift Pilot Program to Create Safer Conditions, $29.1 Million and 292 FTE: This pilot program will allow the Department to convert approximately one third of its institutions to an 8.5-hour shift. Prior to implementation of the current 12-hour schedule, the Department’s institutions and security staff worked an 8-hour schedule. After moving to a 12-hour schedule, the Department has experienced numerous issues directly related to extended shifts, including increases in separations of staff, use of force incidents, contraband, violent incidents and more.
- Security Threat Group (STG) Sergeants, $2.2 Million and 34 FTE: These positions will allow the Department to better manage STG members (gangs), improve staffing levels and increase the safety and security of institutions. STG activities within correctional institutions have increased 141% between FY 09-10 to FY 18-19. Contraband incidents increased 484%. In FY 18-19, there were 16,739 identified STG members, 17.5% of the total inmate population.
- Additional Office of Inspector General Inspectors, $1.5 Million and 20 FTE: Transparency and accountability remain priorities for the Department, and these additional positions will reduce the average criminal and administrative investigation caseload. High volume of case assignments has negative impacts on quality, accuracy and timeliness of the investigative process.
- Security Enhancement Equipment, $3 Million: This recommendation targets the purchase of critical equipment including: netting systems for throw overs, metal detectors, radios, location tracking systems, intercoms for mental health units, cell phone detectors, drone detection systems, ID verification systems, warehouse x-ray inspection systems, perimeter cameras, perimeter motion lights, rapid ID for visitors, narcotics canines and grounds maintenance equipment.
$5.4 Million to Expand Reentry Programming and Reduce Recidivism
- Academic Education Expansion, $1.4 Million and 17 FTE: This recommendation expands academic programs statewide. This will expand the number of inmates who have access to educational programing such as General Education Degrees. By adding 17 teachers, more than 1,500 additional inmates will have access to educational programing. The goal is to continue to expand educational opportunities over the next three years.
- Career and Technical Services Education Expansion, $4 Million: This provides funding for FDC to partner with local technical/state colleges and industry training providers to expand vocational programming to 50 additional sites. Each site would be able to serve approximately 30 students annually. The request will increase the number of vocational and industrial certificates that are earned, help ensure inmates return to their communities with job skills and will increase the readiness and skill of Florida’s workforce.
$17.1 Million to Improve Health Services
- Wellness Specialists, nearly $1 Million and 17 FTE: This recommendation reestablishes wellness programs at major institutions and annexes. Inmate wellness activities decrease health costs and reduce incidents of disciplinary action by reducing inmate idleness.
- Electronic Medical Record (EMR) Infrastructure, $4.2 Million: The Department recently negotiated an EMR solution as a value-added component of the health services contract. The current IT network and systems do not support the connectivity needed to implement the EMR solution, and this funding will allow the necessary IT upgrades to implement the program.
- Mental Health Hospital at Lake Correctional Institution, $11.9 Million: The Department will build a new mental health facility at Lake CI. The facility is required to provide the mental health services needed by the inmate population, and in line with the Disability Rights of Florida Consent Decree entered December 2016. This new facility will create staff and building efficiencies and is located near an adequate pool of mental health and security staff.
$9 Million to Address Aging Infrastructure
- Facility Maintenance and Repairs, $9 Million: Major repair and renovations are necessary for facilities statewide, including roof replacements, electrical repairs and necessary renovations to unusable buildings due to natural disasters. The Department is responsible for the repair and renovation needs of 145 facilities statewide, which equates to more than 22 million square feet of space. Many of these facilities are old and the physical plant systems are well past their operational life expectancy.
As Florida's largest state agency, the Department of Corrections employs 24,000 members statewide, incarcerates approximately 95,000 inmates and supervises nearly 164,000 offenders in the community.