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

Florida Department of Corrections
Timothy H. Cannon, Interim Secretary

Education Program Expansion

Issue Code: 4700630
Program: Education and Programs
Title: Education Program Expansion
Amount: $3,265,314
FTE: 47

Research shows that providing inmates who lack prior vocational training or a prior employment history with vocational training reduces recidivism. The recommitment rate for the 2,459 inmates released in FY 2000-01 who earned a vocational certificate in prison was 14.31% compared to 19.51% for those who did not complete the vocational program. A similar review for inmates released during FY 2002-03 indicated a recommitment rate of 13% for inmates awarded vocational certificates, while the recommitment rate for all inmates was 21.3%. A January 2001 study conducted by the Department, which focused on 18,414 inmates released from prison in FY 1996-97, determined that inmates who earn a vocational certificate are 14.6% less likely to recidivate than those who do not complete a program.

Chapter 20.315, section (1)(f), Florida Statutes, charges the Department with the duty to provide academic and vocational education programs to incarcerated offenders and supervised offenders which will prepare them for occupations available in the community. Due to budget reductions, the number of vocational training programs offered by the Department has decreased from 173 in FY 2000-01 to 99 in FY 2006-07.

During FY 2005-06, 1,285 inmates were certified as completing at least 1 of the Department's 92 vocational education programs. According to the Department's Risk and Needs System, 13,424 inmates who are not now enrolled in a vocational program are identified as needing vocational training. Given it takes an inmate between 4 months and 10 months to complete a vocational training program, the Department's current 99 vocational programs, with an enrollment capacity of 1,760, are not sufficient to provide vocational training to all inmates who need it - even when considering that some of these inmates may have up to 5 years in which to complete said training before they are released (i.e., they have sufficient time remaining on their sentences to be placed on waiting lists and trained when spaces later become available). Another factor is population increase: the prison population is increasing by approximately 4,000 inmates a year, with an average of 24% needing vocational training. As a result, unless additional vocational training programs are established, the pool of inmates with vocational needs will grow by 1,000 inmates a year. The Department needs more vocational training programs.

In this budget proposal, the department requests 47 positions: 26 Vocational Teacher positions to re-establish 26 vocational education programs; 9 Academic Teacher positions to provide required remedial academic education to vocational students and 12 Education Supervisor I positions to provide needed administrative support to these and other academic and vocational education programs. Specifically:

  • 26 Vocational Teacher positions - to add/restore new vocational education programs in 18 correctional facilities: River Junction Work Camp, Calhoun CI, Century CI (2), Franklin CI, Gulf CI (2), Jackson CI (2), Jefferson CI (2), Liberty CI (2), Santa Rosa Annex (2), Washington CI (2), Gainesville CI, Madison CI, Taylor CI, Union CI (2), Lowell Annex, Dade CI, Glades CI, and Hardee CI. The addition of these positions would enable the department to expand vocational education enrollments by at least 468 students or from 1,760 to 2,228 inmates - an increase of 27%. The construction and building trades will be given the highest priority in the creation of new training programs.

  • 9 Academic Teacher positions - to expand or restore academic education programs in 9 correctional facilities which will add vocational programs through: Century CI, Gulf CI, River Junction Work Camp, Liberty CI, Washington CI, Gainesville CI, Union CI, Dade CI and Hendry CI. Statewide academic enrollment capacity will increase by at least 308 students, or from 4,998 to 5,306 - an increase of 6%. Inmate Teaching Assistants will be used to facilitate/support instruction in all of these programs. All of our vocational training programs utilize Florida Department of Education curriculum frameworks. Each curriculum framework specifies the minimum math and reading grade level required to perform work in the trade. Per Department of Education rules, no inmate unless s/he is special education can be certified unless s/he has the requisite minimum grade level score. These seven (7) Academic Teacher positions are needed to provide remedial math and reading instruction to vocational trainees who lack the required minimum score.

  • 12 Education Supervisor I positions - to provide administrative oversight of institutional vocational and academic education programs: Calhoun CI, Century CI, Gulf CI, Jackson CI, Jefferson CI, Liberty CI, Walton CI, Polk CI, Glades CI, Hardee CI, Hendry CI and Homestead CI. Education Supervisors are needed to manage the programs and to provide administrative support, such as: recruiting and supervising staff; overseeing compliance with teacher certification requirements; serving as Examiners for GED testing; providing education counseling to students; recruiting students and ensure that programs remain fully enrolled; completing program reports and entering student and program data into OBIS; managing the program budget, to include managing grant funded projects, and managing all program purchasing; and, supervising institutional library, law library, and wellness education programs and staff. The institutions mentioned in vocational narrative and not mentioned here already have Education Supervisors to administer the programs.

Additional vocational expenses - establishing a new vocational education program is much more costly than establishing new academic education programs. While all of these vocational programs will be located in pre-existing vocational education shops, those shops are not furnished or equipped. New vocational programs need shop/diagnostic equipment, portable power tools, hand tools, some programs may need air-handling/exhaust systems and computer equipment (network servers, workstations, and software for office occupations oriented programs). Accordingly, we request an additional $15,000 in expense and $5,000 in Operating Capital Outlay funds to equip each of the 26 new vocational programs.