|Program:||Education and Programs|
|Title:||Education Program Expansion|
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:
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.