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Rick Scott, Governor
Florida Department of Corrections, Secretary Michael D. Crews

Florida Department of Corrections
Michael D. Crews, Secretary

Florida Corrections: Centuries of Progress

Collage of Supt. L. Chapman, inmate and Florida Corrections, Centuries of Progress

Welcome to "Florida Corrections: Centuries of Progress," a historical look at the Department of Corrections from its inception in 1821 to today, warts and all. In the web pages that follow, you will meet heroes and murderers, innocent victims and inadvertent agents of change. Our purpose in recounting this history is twofold: to demonstrate how we have evolved through the centuries by learning from our mistakes and to educate the layperson about the depth and breadth of the Florida corrections system. It is a huge, multifaceted organization whose staff of more than 23,000 is charged with maintaining public safety for all Floridians through the incarceration and supervision of offenders. The DC supervises more than 100,000 inmates in 143 prison facilities and more than 145,000 offenders throughout 160 Probation and Parole offices on an annual budget of $2.1 billion. In addition to focusing on these fundamental areas, we also took the liberty of honoring some of our own who forfeited their lives in the course of their jobs.

Here are some specific areas addressed in the history:

  • Did you know that Paul Newman played a role in Florida Department of Corrections history - without stepping foot in Florida? (1967)

  • Do you know what happened to end the practice of inmate leasing? (1921)

  • In Florida, which governor was the first to order executions in December? (1936)

  • Why did the FDOC close its doors in 1972 to incoming inmates?

  • Can you believe an inmate who escaped from a prison in Starke, FL actually made his way to Tallahassee and stole a car belonging to none other than the Secretary of the Department of Corrections? (1980)

  • What warden of Florida State Prison instituted the short-lived practice of allowing death row inmates a "last drink"? (1983)

  • Would it surprise you to know that the number of offenders under FDOC supervision and in FDOC's custody is larger than the population of 48 of 67 Florida counties?


We Welcome Ideas, Corrections and Photographs!

We hope you enjoy looking at our History of Corrections and maybe learn a little in the process. We have done our best to be accurate, but we know that there will be some errors and we hope you'll point them out to us so we can correct them. Also, we'd like to hear from you if we left something of historical significance out. Finally, if you have pictures of DC employees that we have mentioned in the timeline, we would love to get a copy and include them. Of particular interest would be DC employees who have died in the line of duty and former prison superintendents/wardens. For obvious reasons, it's much easier to get historical inmate photos than employee photos, but we'd really like to highlight our employees who have contributed so much to the department over the years. Please report corrections, omissions, etc., to the Office of Communications. Thank you for your input.


To begin your tour, click the next button below, or select a date range from the Timeline menu bar on the left.

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