The Florida Department of Corrections employs more than 26,000 staff in our prison facilities and in Community Corrections statewide. We are responsible for the care, custody and treatment of almost 100,000 inmates in state prisons and almost 200,000 offenders on community supervision. It is a difficult job, made more so this fiscal year by budget cuts necessitated by our declining economy and increasing inmate population.
We are meeting this challenge by taking the long view and by focusing on providing prisoners with the tools and skills to find viable employment upon release, so they will not return to prison. Currently, one in every three offenders returns to state prison within three years of release, at a cost of about $20,000 per year. Our goal is to reduce that 33% recidivism rate to 26% by 2012. We know that an inmate who is educated or skilled in a particular field will have a much better chance at successful re-entry into society than one who is not.
We also understand that an inmate who is clean and sober will be more likely to keep a job and stay out of prison, which is why we strongly support increased substance abuse treatment programs in prisons. Our Department will release close to 40,000 inmates this year, many of them with drugrelated offenses. We do not have enough space available in our substance abuse treatment programs for all of them, so many leave prison without any treatment for their addictions. We know it would be more fiscally responsible to pay at the front end through treatment, than to continue to pay at the back end when they return to prison.
Though we are experiencing very tough economic times, our staff continues to rise to the occasion and is unquestionably our organizationís most valuable resource. They are conscientious, dedicated, hard working professionals doing jobs that many would not be capable of performing. I salute them all.
This annual report can be a most valuable resource for anyone interested in statistics about inmate and offender admissions, populations and releases. There is also a section about death row, escapes and our Departmentís accomplishments during the fiscal year. We created it with Florida citizens in mind, hoping to address any questions you might have regarding the Florida Department of Corrections.
This report can also be found online at http://www.dc.state.fl.us/pub/annual/0708.
"You Never Walk Alone"