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Rick Scott, Governor
Florida Department of Corrections, Secretary Michael D. Crews

Florida Department of Corrections
Timothy H. Cannon, Interim Secretary

Secretary's Office

Legislative Update

Rhesa Rudolph
Director
(850) 488-0987
SUNCOM 278-0987

The 1997 Legislative session brought the following changes to the Florida Department of Corrections, its staff and offenders.

Budget Highlights

The 1997 Legislature appropriated an operating budget in excess of $1.5 billion for the Department of Corrections. Below are some of the highlights of the 1997-98 budget:

  • Education: The Legislature provided $2.9 million for contract job skills education and vocational training enhancements. In addition, $2.4 million was authorized for expansion of facilities.
  • Community Work Squads: Provided authority to establish approximately 100 positions and $6.6 million for contracting with agencies for community work squads.
  • Radio Communication: Authorized $.5 million to increase radio communication for correctional probation officers.
  • Records Management: Funded offender records imaging for $.5 million.
  • Operating Costs: Reduced operating costs by $54 million and 1,012 positions due to decline in inmate population estimates.
  • Fixed Capital Outlay: Provided $2.3 million in fixed capital outlay funds to continue addressing critical security enhancements including the Florida State Prison lockdown conversion project.
  • Public Safety and Community Notification: Provided $141,160 for the purchase of digitized photo equipment to photograph sexual offenders and sexual predators. Digitized photographs will be used in notifying communities and other law enforcement agencies of the presence of certain sex offenders.
  • Repair and Renovation: Appropriated $23.8 million in fixed capital outlay funds to build an annex and renovate deteriorated facilities at Florida Correctional Institution.

Salaries

Effective January 1, 1998, funds were provided in the 1997-98 Appropriations Act to increase the December 31, 1997 base rate of pay for eligible career service employees, correctional officers, and correctional probation officers as follows:

  • Employees with annual salaries of $20,000 or less shall receive an annualized increase of $1,200;
  • Employees with an annual salary from $20,001 to $36,000 shall receive an annualized increase of $1,000; and,
  • Employees with an annual salary of $36,001 or more shall receive an annualized increase of 2.78%.
  • Raises for Senior Management Service (SMS) and Select Exempt Service (SES) employees are discretionary; however, if the agency head grants a salary increase, it shall be in accordance with the three-tiered schedule above.
  • Professional health care employees will receive a three (3) percent competitive pay adjustment on their base rate of pay to be effective on the employee's anniversary date.

SUMMARY OF LEGISLATION AFFECTING THE DEPARTMENT

Reoffender Punishment Act:

  • Provides that any offender who recommits a qualifying offense within three years of release from a state correctional facility shall be required to serve 100% of mandatory minimum sentences if the state attorney seeks conviction under the provisions of the bill. Conviction for a first degree felony is 30 years; second degree felony is 15 years; and third degree felony is five years. A felony conviction punishable by life is imprisonment for life.
  • The department is required to notify every inmate in their release documents that they may be sentenced under the new provisions in the event they commit a qualified offense within three years of release. If the inmate violates the terms of their probation, community control, conditional release, control release or conditional medical release, all gaintime credit shall be forfeited. Prior to this legislation such forfeiture was discretionary.

Florida Punishment Code:

  • Repeals existing sentencing guidelines effective October 1, 1998 and establishes the Florida Punishment Code. Downward departures will require written justification.
  • The bill also provides that a person sentenced for any offense committed on or after July 1, 1997, and who has at least one prior felony conviction, and whose recommended sentence is a nonstate prison sanction may receive a sentence of up to 22 months of incarceration or community control supervision.

Conditional Release/Sex Offender Supervision:

  • Defines sex offender probation or sex offender community control as an intensive form of supervision for sex offenders in accordance with an individualized treatment plan.
  • Conditions of sex offender probation, community control, and conditional release will be expanded for sex crimes committed on or after October 1, 1997 to include requiring periodic, specialized polygraph examinations, maintaining vehicle driving logs, pre-approval of the supervising officer for the offender to drive alone, and the prior approval of the supervising officer before obtaining or using a post office box. If there was sexual contact, the offender must submit to an HIV test (at their expense) and the results released to the victim or the parent/guardian of the victim. Electronic monitoring may be ordered by the court upon the recommendation of the department.
  • In addition, the offender is prohibited from viewing or owning materials, including telephone, electronic media, computer programs, or computer services that are relevant to the offender's deviant behavior.
  • The offender must submit to warrantless searches by the community control or probation officer of their person, vehicle, or residence.

Public Safety Information Act

  • This bill amends sexual predator and sex offender registration and community notification requirements.
  • Establishes a toll-free telephone number to enhance public access to information regarding certain sex offenders.
  • Creates s. 944.607, F.S., to require the Department of Corrections to collect certain information for any sex offender in custody of or under the supervision of the department on or after October 1, 1997: name, current address, legal status (including scheduled termination date), location and local phone number of the P&P office supervising the offender; disclosure if the victim of the offense was a minor; physical description; offenses of conviction which resulted in sex offender designation; and a digitized photograph taken within 60 days of release (or by January 1, 1998), or within 60 days of the onset of supervision. Private correctional facilities shall provide a digitized photograph to the Department of Corrections.
  • Amends s. 944.606, F.S., relating to notification of release of sex offenders. Provides that the Department of Corrections must still provide the name of the sex offender and identifying information in addition to the correctional facility from which the sex offender is being released, a digitized photograph taken within 60 days of anticipated release, and the date of release. This bill requires the information and photo to be electronically provided to FDLE in addition to the existing requirements regarding notification to the sheriff of the county where the sex offender was sentenced, the sheriff of the county where the sex offender plans to reside, and any person who requests such information.
  • Provides that the chief judge of the circuit in which the offender was sentenced shall be notified by the department within 6 months prior to release of an inmate or as soon as possible in the event of early release. Also requires notice of release to FDLE in addition to the appropriate state attorney, original arresting law enforcement agency, and the sheriff of the county in which the inmate plans to reside.
  • Within 60 days of release, the Department of Corrections must take a digitized photograph of an inmate and place it in the inmate's file. The Department of Corrections will also make the digitized photograph available electronically to FDLE.
  • Law enforcement officers will be required to determine if persons under investigation or arrested for certain sexual offenses are under supervision by the Department of Corrections and requires notification by the law enforcement agency to the offender's probation officer or release supervisor of the investigation or arrest.

Chemical Castration

  • Authorizes the court to sentence a defendant to treatment with medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA) for first conviction of sexual battery; mandates treatment upon a subsequent conviction. Provides for voluntary physical castration as an alternative penalty under specified circumstances.
  • Sentencing by the court is contingent upon determination by a court appointed medical expert that the defendant is an appropriate candidate for treatment. The determination is to be made no later than sixty days from the imposition of the sentence.
  • Length of treatment shall be specified by the court and may be for the life of the defendant (discretion of the court). This may be beyond the maximum sentence of incarceration.
  • If the offender is sentenced to a term of incarceration, the treatment shall begin no later than one week prior to release.
  • If the defendant does not appear as required by the Department of Corrections for the administration of the treatment or refuses the treatment ordered by the court, the person is guilty of a second degree felony.
  • The Department of Corrections shall provide the services necessary to administer the treatment and be required to monitor the schedule of administration for the treatment.

Inmate and Probationer Issues:

  • Clarification regarding credit for time served on probation or community control toward new terms of supervision following violation.
  • Authorization of disciplinary action for inmates who file frivolous lawsuits/malicious actions or bring false information before the court.
  • Authorization for "reasonable suspicion" substance abuse testing of inmates.
  • Entitlement to due process hearing authorized for inmates under 22 years of age who qualify for special educational services (in compliance with Federal requirements).
  • Modification of the conditional release program to include violent career criminals in addition to habitual or violent habitual offenders. Parole Commission may issue enhanced terms of supervision to include curfews, electronic monitoring, and other house arrest type provisions. Provides for intensive supervision of conditional release offenders. Subject to specific appropriation by the legislature, caseloads may be restricted to a maximum of 40 offenders per officer.
  • Provides intent language regarding the department's chaplaincy programs and requirement to measure recidivism rates for inmates who have participated in religious programs. The department is also required to conduct an in-depth study and prepare a report to the Legislature by January 1, 1998.

Parole Interviews:

  • Provides for the Parole Commission to review the date of an inmate's release under parole every five years, instead of every two years.
  • The Parole Commission will still conduct an initial interview to determine a presumptive parole release date for parole eligible inmates based on parole guidelines and other evidence relevant to aggravating and mitigating circumstances.

Inmate Medical Copayments:

  • Effective October 1, 1997, the inmate medical copayment will be $4.00 for each non-emergency visit.
  • The DC, in conjunction with the Privatization Commission, shall study and develop a plan to recover costs associated with prescription and over-the-counter medications, including consideration of instituting a copayment for prescription medications. Report is due to President of Senate and Speaker of the House by January 1, 1998.

Siting of Probation and Parole Offices

  • Modifies written notification requirements (in addition to newspaper publication) to the county or city administrator when a proposed probation and parole office is to be located within 1/4 mile of a school, licensed day care center, park, playground, nursing home, hospital, etc., or other place where children or a population especially vulnerable to crime due to age or physical or mental disability regularly congregate.