There were no escapes in FY0809 from the security perimeter of a correctional institution. This success can be attributed to a number of factors, including better technology for perimeter fences, better training for our officers, improved contraband control, better coordination with classification for placing the appropriate inmates in the correct custody level; and multiple layers of security auditing. We also learn from our mistakes, so when a rare escape does occur, we refine our system to eliminate the problem that contributed to that escape.
The Department’s dogged determination to remove contraband cell phones from
within its prison walls got a helping hand, or nose, with the addition of a second cellphone
sniffing dogs this year. Funds to purchase Razor, a female Malinois, and Uno, a
male German Shepherd were donated by the Animal Welfare Foundation of Winter
Garden. Cell phones are considered contraband in prison because they are used by
inmates to coordinate escape attempts, run criminal enterprises, extort other inmates,
intimidate witnesses, and introduce contraband like drugs and actual weapons into
prison. Those who smuggle cell phones into Florida prisons may be charged with a
third degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, in accordance with
s. 944.47, F.S. The statute, which went into effect on October 1, 2008, expands the definition of contraband to include cellular telephones and similar portable communication devices like hand held radios, personal digital assistants (PDAs) and Blackberry-type devices, among others.
Florida's cell phone sniffing duo: Uno (left) and Razor (Right)
More than 80% of prison inmates work in jobs ranging from laundry, cooking and prison maintenance to prison industries and outside work squads. Community Work Squad inmates perform services under agreements with the Department of Transportation, other state agencies such as the Division of Forestry, counties, cities, municipalities, and non-profit organizations. In Fiscal Year 2008-09, the DC's Community Work Squad inmates worked 6.5 million hours in our communities, saving Florida taxpayers more than $57.5 million. For example, inmate labor squads from Reception and Medical Center (RMC) report taxpayers of Union County were saved approximately $341,000 by pressure washing, painting and installing a steel roof on the existing Union County Emergency Management Services building; construction of the Recreation Complex; and construction of the new Public Library this fiscal year.
Crops Inmates grow crops every year. In Fiscal Year 2008-09, the Department cultivated approximately 1,700 acres at over 30 different farms and gardens and harvested over 2.83 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 (100,000+) number of inmates, the Department cannot depend on the crop program to sustain our inmates.
In Fiscal Year 2008-09, the Department re-assumed responsibility for Food Service operations at all state-run facilities when the contracted vendors relinquished their contracts. The Department of Corrections spends less than $3 per day per inmate, or about one dollar per meal, to feed more than 101,000 inmates in our facilities statewide.
This year we began featuring pictures of the inmate-trained dogs who graduated from our prison dog programs in our electronic newsletter that reaches over 26,000 employees, and on our public website. This gives exposure to the program and also provides another avenue for the dogs to possibly be adopted. We provide a link to the shelters where these dogs go after graduation.