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Rick Scott, Governor
Florida Department of Corrections, Secretary Julie L. Jones

Florida Department of Corrections
Julie L. Jones, Secretary

Secretary's Office

Legislative Update

Peggy Ball
Legislative Programs Coordinator
(904) 488-0987
SUNCOM 278-0987

The 1996 Legislative session brought the following changes to the Florida Department of Corrections, its staff, inmates and offenders:

Budget Highlights

The 1996 Legislature appropriated a total budget of almost $1.5 billion for the Department of Corrections. Below are some of the highlights of the 1996-97 budget:

  • Step Play Plan: This $9.4 million appropriation provides for a one step advance for the correctional officer and correctional probation officer classes, effective January 1, 1997.
  • Revised Relief Factor: The 1996 Legislature fully funded the relief factor. An additional 484 position and $6.2 million was provided for additional staff.
  • Improved Security Systems: Provided $5.7 million to upgrade, replace or improve security systems at existing institutions.
  • Inmate Education and Job Training: Increased current budget by $2.6 million and authorized 51 additional positions to provide employability skills and transition programs for offenders.
  • Supervised Work Squads: Provided $1.2 million and 50 positions for armed and unarmed work squads.
  • Extended Care Center: Appropriated $989,000 to establish a chronic care and extended treatment center for inmates. This facility will be located at the Central Florida Reception Center and will provide health care services for inmates with TB, HIV, terminal cancer, and other seriously chronic debilitating conditions.
  • Eligible Career Service employees will receive a three percent increase on their base salary effective January 1, 1997. If the increase is less than $1,000, each employee will receive an additional increase which provides the employee a total annual salary of $1,000. Professional Health Care employees and Selected Exempt Service Physicians will receive a three percent increase on their base salary, effective on the employee's anniversary date. Additional funds were provided for eligible Professional Health Care employees to receive a longevity salary increase on the employee's anniversary date. Additional funds were also provided for eligible SES Physicians effective June 30, 1996 who have five or more years of continuous state service.
  • Eligible Career Service Security Services Employees (including Correctional Officers and Correctional Probation Officers) will receive a four and a half percent increase on their base salary effective January 1, 1997. In addition, eligible employees will receive a three percent step increase. The total increase for CO's and CPO's will be seven and one-half percent. The minimum salary for CO's will increase to $18,924 on January 1, 1997.
  • Eligible Senior Management and Selected Exempt Service employees will receive an overall average pay increase of three percent effective January 1, 1997. These increases will be distributed at the discretion of the Secretary.
Laws Affecting DC Staff and Operations

In other areas affecting DC staff, laws were passed to:

  • Authorize the department to use or display blue lights on vehicles when responding to emergency situations.
  • Authorize the department to develop an employee wellness program. This program may include random drug and alcohol testing for all employees.
  • Clean up language regarding the notification requirements for the release of sex offenders from prison.
  • Authorize the department to establish direct support organizations for the direct or indirect benefit to the department.
  • Authorize the department to operate its own child care centers, exempt from the additional requirements prescribed by the Department of Management Services.
  • Require the department to incorporate into its Strategic Plan the goal of maximizing the utilization of inmates and to work inmates 40 hours a week within existing resources.
  • Authorize the department to enter into contracts with governmental entities to provide services and inmate labor and to charge fees for such services.
  • Complete the repeal of the local detention inspection program. The bill also requires the Florida Sheriff's Association and the Florida Association of Counties to develop minimum standards to be adopted by each sheriff and chief correctional officer. The bill further provides that individual counties may enter into contracts with the department to inspect local detention facilities for a fee.
  • Provide for user-fee funding of certification and monitoring of the Batterer's Intervention Program. Authorizes the department to collect fees for certifying programs through the Office for Certification and Monitoring.
  • Require the department to consult with the Corrections Commission regarding proposals for the Prison Industries Enhancement (PIE) program. The bill authorizes a $500,000 loan from the Inmate Welfare Trust Fund to the Correctional Work Program for start up infrastructure costs associated with the PIE program.
  • Require the Department of Corrections, effective October 1, 1997, to prepare all sentencing guideline scoresheets.
  • Restructure the department's purpose and mission and emphasize the commitment to inmate and offender work and restitution.
  • Any employer of full-time enforcement officers, correctional officers, or correctional probation officers who on or after January 1, 1995 suffer a catastrophic injury in the line of duty shall pay the entire premium of the employer's health insurance plans for the injured employee's spouse, and for each dependent child.
  • Provide that educational expenses for dependent children of deceased officers shall be waived for a total of 120 credit hours at a state vocational-technical school, community college, or state university and the child may attend any or all of the institutions on a full-time or part-time basis.
  • Transfer the Justice Data Center to the Department of Corrections. Although there are no immediate plans to physically move the JDC, (now known as the Corrections Data Center), the administrative transfer was effective July 1, 1996
  • Provide flexibility for the secretary to establish regional boundaries. The regions, to the extent possible, must be drawn along judicial circuit lines, and attempt to balance the geographical size or workload of each region.
Laws Affecting Offenders and Inmates
  • Require the department to provide certain information and assistance to inmates and offenders regarding the restoration of their civil rights.
  • Authorize the secretary to delegate authorization for inmates to participate in work release.
  • Require the department to adopt rules that limit and restrict the use of weightlifting equipment by inmates for disciplinary infractions or incomplete work assignments.
  • Make revisions to the Inmate Welfare Trust Fund; requires the department to verify that contracted telephone commissions are received and the approved contract rates are charged. Requires the department to raise prices at canteens to "fair market value".
  • Provide that children may not visit convicted sex offenders except under special circumstances approved by the department. If the court prohibits children from visiting a sex offender, then only the court can approve special visits.
  • Require the courts and the department to obtain offenders' social security numbers and submit those numbers to the Social Security Administration to determine fraudulent activity or available benefits.
  • Clarify existing language relating to the $2 cost of supervision surcharge so that the department can use the money when it is collected.
  • Clarify the definition of a habitual felony offender; habitual violent felony offender; and violent career criminal. Violent career criminals who commit offenses on or after October 1,1996 will be eligible to earn up to 10 days per month of incentive gain-time, instead of 5 days per month.
  • Reinstate the minimum mandatory sentence of 15 years for possession of a firearm by violent career criminals. Clarifies the legislative intent regarding the prohibition of gain-time until an inmate has satisfied the firearm minimum mandatory portion of their sentence, effective July 1, 1996.
  • Clarify the credits awarded by the court for the time physically incarcerated shall be credited toward satisfaction of 85 percent of the sentence imposed, effective July 1, 1996.
  • Allow the court to issue a written order to take away privileges, including, but not limited to, canteen purchases, telephone access, outdoor exercise, and use of the library, and visitation in the event an inmate fails to prevail in the defense of a civil action for damages incurred during the commission of a crime or attempted crime for which the inmate is incarcerated. The court is responsible for notifying the correctional facility.
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