Look to the Past to Prepare for the Future
In order to determine the future course of the Florida Department of Corrections, sometimes it is wise to review our past. History appears to move in parallels. This is apparent in corrections. One hundred years ago we leased prisoners; we contracted labor to private industry; we had chain gangs on the roads; we farmed the land to supplement our diets. We do all of these things today. However, today we do them differently and more efficiently.
Because the Costello lawsuit was settled, we now have standards of care for inmates, including bed space requirements, security, medical, and food and diet standards. We provide vocational and academic programs for inmates as well as work opportunities. We have partnerships with communities to provide them with inmate labor to defray their costs and to provide the inmates with job skills. We have Prison Industry Enhancement (PIE) and Prison Rehabilitative Industries and Diversified Enterprises (PRIDE) to enhance work opportunities for inmates and to pay them for their labor. It also provides inmates with money to pay court costs, restitution, and fines. We have many self-help programs for inmates and offenders including programs for substance abuse, anger management, parenting skills, and transitional skills. For offenders under community supervision, we have increased the resources available to assist them to find jobs, obtain counseling, and/or participate in substance abuse programs in the community.
The number of beds in our system has increased from 45,237 to 70,897 in the last eight years to accommodate the growth of the inmate population due to longer sentences, and longer service of sentence (85 percent mandatory).
We have enhanced security of our institutions by establishing comprehensive, system-wide standards and subsequently auditing compliance. Additional improvements have been made in the design of our secure facilities to provide for enhanced safety for the public, our staff, and inmates. We can proudly report an unprecedented reduction in successful escapes from our institutions as we press forward toward our goal of "zero tolerance" for inmate escapes.
On a daily basis, the department's community work squad program provided more than 3,000 inmates to work for the Department of Transportation, other state agencies, local governments, and nonprofit organizations resulting in value added/cost savings to the citizens of Florida in the amount of $26.3 million over the last fiscal year.
The identification and monitoring of criminal gangs and disruptive groups by our Security Threat Group Intelligence Unit has resulted in interagency intelligence exchange throughout Florida and our nation to effectively reduce the threat posed by these predatory groups and their members.
Some initiatives to assist employees include the establishment of a formal sick leave pool, policies on telecommuting, flexible schedules, alternative work hours, and job sharing. Additionally, we have established a museum to display memorabilia and allow the public and staff to understand our history and culture. We have built a memorial to honor those officers who have given their lives to protect the public. We have partnerships with St. Petersburg Jr. College and Florida Gulf Coast University to allow employees to obtain their college degrees while working full time. Specialized training has been developed and provided to staff including Women Facing the Future and the Certified Public Manager's programs. We have created a Direct Service Organization to raise funds for emergency situations for both staff and inmates.
Public safety initiatives have included the creation of an award winning page on the World Wide Web, which among other information provides data on all inmates in the system, all released inmates since October 1997, and all escaped inmates. Within the year, we will also include all offenders under community supervision. In cooperation with Florida Department of Law Enforcement, we also have a database that lists all sex offenders and their locations.
We have come a long way with technological advancements, professionally trained staff, and increased programs that both offenders and inmates can access to assist them in a successful return to society.
Our number one priority is still public safety. Second, is our commitment to staff to ensure their safe working conditions along with the inmates and offenders. These objectives have remained the same; our efforts to achieve them have improved. We will always be confronted with change, and technology has provided us with the ability to make our programs more efficient.
We will always need to look to our past to ensure our future progress.
Harry K. Singletary, Jr.
|Harry K. Singletary, Jr. is chief executive officer (CEO) of the Department of Corrections. He was appointed to this position by Governor Lawton Chiles in April 1991. Singletary worked for 11 years in juvenile corrections in Illinois before moving back to Florida to accept a position as Region V Director in 1979. As DC Secretary, he is responsible for the direction and operation of all aspects of the Florida correctional system. During his tenure, he has sought to decentralize the department's administrative functions using Total Quality Management techniques and has emphasized training and staff development, community partnerships and increased public safety.|
|Additional Contact Information|