To increase the number of offenders who are successful on supervision (and may avoid jail or prison terms), the following strategies were used this past year to improve offender success rate on supervision:
Community Supervision Completion Rates continue to Rise: The success rate of offenders in completing probation or community supervision continues to climb. In January 2007, the success rate was 29.4%, rising to 44.1% in 2009 and 44.8% in July 2010.
Reduction In Prison Admissions Due To Technical Violations: In addition to an increase in success rates for offenders on supervision, there has also been a reduction in prison admissions due to technical violations. In FY0809, there were 8,199 offenders sentenced to prison due to technical violations, whereas in FY0910, there were 7,595.
Reductions in Leasing Costs: The Department of Corrections continues reducing state costs wherever possible by co-locating probation offices and administrative offices, reducing lease space, and negotiating rate reductions. Despite the challenges associated with the statutory restrictions of probationers and the limited options for location of a probation office, the Department, through its concerted efforts, has successfully reduced square footage and leasing costs.
Statewide since March 1, 2009:
Imaging Supervised Offender Files Will Reduce Costs: Due to statutes and rules regarding record retention, Community Corrections has been storing inactive offender files in each county or circuit for many years as cases terminate supervision or investigations are completed. It is estimated that the Department leases approximately 37,000 feet to store these inactive files, which costs approximately $536,000 per year. Each circuit reviews the "dead" hard copy files stored annually during a "file destruction process" to identify which files have had no activity for three years and can be destroyed. The need for budget reduction, coupled with enhanced technology, created the opportunity to revisit the viability of imaging inactive offender files. After a successful imaging pilot was conducted in Sebring and Sanford, a statewide imaging process will be implemented in November 1, 2010, beginning with cases that terminate supervision. In addition, offices approaching lease renewal or expiration will use all available resources in the circuit to scan and image the remaining "dead" files stored to reduce the lease space required in the future location. Once the documents are imaged, they will be available statewide for staff to access, which will reduce postage costs (approximately $130,000 to $150,000 per year) previously spent in mailing offender files. Offender file folders will be reused once the file documents are removed and scanned, which will also reduce the costs by an estimated $30,000 each year.
Geographic Information System (GIS) Used For Reviewing Sex Offender Residences: The "Sex Offender Residence Restriction" (SORR) application was developed in house by Community Corrections and Office of Information Technology staff to help probation officers and release officers efficiently and effectively investigate proposed addresses for sex offenders from their desktop. The application indicates the location of child care facilities, schools, playgrounds and parks, and lets the officer know with the click of a mouse if an address is not in compliance with statutory sex offender residence restrictions. This system assists the officer and offender in finding potentially viable residences and saves officers countless trips to field locations to physically confirm whereabouts of these restricted locations. With an average of 3,777 sex offender admissions over one year, cost avoidance is estimated at $100,846 in travel expenses and $140,504 in officer time annually.
Department's Community Supervision section awarded $3.4 million in federal funds to hire more Probation Officers: The Community Supervision branch of the Florida Department of Corrections was awarded a $3,448,782 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice on August 31, 2009. The competitive Byrne Grant funding provides the Department of Corrections with two years of funding for the training and hiring of 30 probation officers in six circuits covering Alachua, Bay, Lee, Lake, Polk and Pinellas counties in an effort to reduce the growing number of caseloads.
The lower caseload sizes will allow officers to increase their coordination with local law enforcement, spend additional time on direct supervision of offenders in the community and assist them toward improved offender outcomes by linking them to substance abuse and recovery support resources.
Probation officers in Florida play a key public safety role by supervising offenders in the community and ensuring they are complying with the conditions of supervision, which often includes participating in drug counseling, public service hours and curfews. Probation officers are also a vital link in the Department's efforts to ensure public safety