No Escapes Again This Year
There were no escapes from the secure perimeter of a correctional institution in FY0910. Our continuing success in preventing escapes can be attributed to the hard work and diligence of our institutional security staff. Their tireless dedication to the implementation of comprehensive security procedures is the most critical element of what has proven to be an effective security program. Additionally, improved prison facility design, security hardware features and modern electronic systems have certainly proven beneficial to this effort as have sound inmate classification practices that insure inmates are housed in facilities that meet the risk level necessary to contain them. As the number one priority of the Department, public protection through escape prevention is at the forefront of all we do.
Inmate Labor in Our Communities
In FY0910, the Department's Community Work Squad inmates worked 6.6 million hours in our communities, saving Florida taxpayers more than $59 million.
Inmates Growing Food
In FY0910, inmates cultivated almost 1,700 acres at over 30 different farms and gardens, and harvested over 4.7 million pounds of produce including broccoli, cabbage, cantaloupe and watermelon. These crops are used to supplement inmate meals, but because of unpredictable weather and the (102,000+) number of inmates, the Department cannot depend on the crop program to sustain our inmates.
A number of Florida prisons, probation offices and work release centers were audited and accredited during FY0910 by the American Correctional Association (ACA).
ACA accreditation standards are the national benchmark for the effective operation of correctional systems throughout the United States, and Florida prisons, work release centers and probation and parole facilities consistently pass accreditation standards with marks in the high 90s.
Corrections Secretary Walt McNeil notes that "These successes are a testament to the professionalism of our employees, who continue to excel despite working in a difficult and stressful environment, during challenging economic times."
Some of the areas reviewed during the accreditation process include security, health services, chaplaincy, food services, segregation, mail and visiting. The facilities are reviewed to see how well they are complying with established ACA standards that represent the highest level of correctional practices.
The following facilities and programs were successfully audited and accredited by the American Correctional Association during FY0910:
The FY0910 Florida Legislature unanimously passed the Department of Corrections (DOC) priority legislative package (HB 1005), sponsored by Rep. Doug Holder (R-Sarasota). This broad legislation improves offender re-entry efforts, updates statutes and removes obsolete language, and enhances the security of the Florida prison system.
This bill was signed into law on May 11, 2010 (Ch. 2010-64 L.O.F.).
Charlotte CI staff came up with a plan to use scrap fencing and building materials discarded from various construction projects to build a fully operational hydroponics grow field using no electricity. The result is fresh produce for the inmates and potential jobs upon release.
Hydroponic plants are grown in mineral-rich water, often close together, without soil. The "Hydroponic Growing Field Prototype" is a method of growing vegetables in a series of containers that are affixed to a stationary pipe. Running above these pipes is tubing that slowly delivers a mixture of fertilizer and water that flows through the containers, evenly distributing moisture and nutrients throughout. Hydroponics uses nutrient feeding lines that are pressurized by a series of electric pumps and timers.
Because of the remote location of Charlotte's hydroponics, a small tower with a water tank was erected, which alleviated the need for expensive electric motors and pumps. The tank is serviceable from ground level and requires no maintenance from above. With assistance from Mr. Petitt, Regional Farm Manager, Charlotte CI is in the early stages of this project and has already harvested 300 of pounds of fresh produce including collard greens, turnip greens, cucumbers, and lettuce.
The operation is also giving inmates a hands-on course in hydroponics, which may lead to jobs when they are released.
"This set up has been built and put into operation with 90% of the material coming from discarded and/or scrapped items. The water tank was erected, again with scrap material, and the water for these stations is fed strictly by gravity from this tank producing 40 psi of water pressure. The system that we constructed measures only 16ft. × 37ft. This area will allow for approximately two thousand crops to be planted, grown and harvested in over 400 containers. This small area will produce more than what a regular one-acre plant field would harvest," according to Charlotte CI Colonel Snider.
A shoe repair program at Madison Correctional Institution has saved over a quarter of a million dollars this fiscal year in inmate boot replacement costs statewide, in addition to providing a job skill to dozens of inmates.
Approximately 20,000 pairs of boots were refurbished during FY 2009-2010, saving more than $250,000. The Department of Corrections oversees more than 100,000 inmates in prisons throughout the state. A new pair of boots costs $17.50, compared to an average of $4.43 per pair for refurbished boots.
The Boot Repair program, which began ten years ago, was initially designed for inmates to refurbish and repair inmate work boots to defer the cost of replacing them with new boots, and only in the north Florida region of the state. Over the last decade the program has expanded to provide repaired and refurbished boots to inmates statewide.
Under the guidance of Madison CI Warden Milton Hicks and supervisor Dennis McClamma, the program has grown to become a successful work program providing about 35 inmates daily with meaningful job training that prepares them for shoe repair and machinery-operating jobs upon release, and also reduces inmate idleness, which is always a security concern in prisons.
Madison Correctional Institution was established in 1989 and houses adult male inmates.