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Rick Scott, Governor
Florida Department of Corrections, Secretary Julie L. Jones

Florida Department of Corrections
Julie L. Jones, Secretary

Florida Corrections:  Centuries of Progress

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Florida becomes a U.S. territory. A few primitive county jails are the closest thing to prisons for convicted felons in Florida during its years as a U.S. Territory.

Old Map of Florida
After Seminole, Spanish, French and British rule, Florida became a U.S. territory in 1821, and a state in 1845; but didn't actually create the first prison until after the Civil War (1861-1865).


In the Jacksonian Period, development of prisons increased nationwide, reflecting a shift in public opinion and a decline in support for harsh discipline.

Town Public gathered downtown.
Large crowds gathered for public hangings. Many offenses were punishable by death.


Territorial Governor Robert Reid stressed the need for prisons and the abolition of "barbarous" penalties such as whipping, branding, and the pillory. He also pressed for one jail in every district because there was not a secure jail in any of the East Florida counties.

Governor Robert Reid
Robert R. Reid, Florida's fourth Territorial Governor. Photo courtesy of Florida Photographic Collection (FPC).


Florida becomes a state, but doesn't create the first prison until after the Civil War.

Picture of People of Ethnic Diversity
Early Florida residents including Seminole women.

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