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

Florida Department of Corrections
Julie L. Jones, Secretary

Inmates at Work

Eighty-two percent of the inmates in DC institutions and facilities in Florida on the last day of the fiscal year (June 30, 1998) worked, participated in programs such as vocational education or adult education classes, or a combination of work and programs. The remaining 18 percent were either medically unable to work, were participating in a reception and orientation process or were in some type of confinement for management purposes, including death row.

Photo of inmate cooking.
  Cooking for a Thousand - Inmates prepare corn bread and biscuits for 1,000 fellow inmates at a Florida prison.
Inmate labor is used to construct new correctional facilities, and support and maintain the ongoing operation of correctional institutions. Inmates also prepare and serve all meals, help maintain prison grounds, farm and garden, participate in sanitation and recycling processes, and work for PRIDE (Prison Rehabilitative Industries and Diversified Enterprises) and PIE (Prison Industry Enhancement) programs. Additionally, inmates are assigned to the department's Community Work Squad program, which is described in more detail below, along with some of the other types of work Florida prison inmates participated in during FY 97-98, and how much it saved Florida taxpayers.

Community Work Squad Program

There are three types of Community Work Squads: those that work under an agreement with the Department of Transportation (DOT), those that provide "free labor" under a local agreement between the correctional institutions and other state agencies such as the Division of Forestry, cities, counties, municipalities and non-profit organizations referred to as Public Works/Interagency Community Service Work Squads, and contracted Public Work Squads authorized by the 1997 Legislature wherein the outside body or organization contracting with the department pays for services received.

The DOT Inmate Work Squads, working under the supervision of staff from both the DC and DOT, performed more than 1.9 million hours of work valued at $13.1 million in FY 97-98. These squads performed all types of roadway and right-of-way work to help maintain the state's highway system. In the event of natural disasters, such as hurricanes and severe storms, these work squads may be called upon by DOT to assist with clean up, correction and repair of damages.

Photo of inmates at work.
  Cleaning up the Beach - CO I Jack Pilkinton, who oversees Franklin Work Camp's Public Work Squad #3, gets ready for another work day. His work squad cleaned up 301 miles of roadway and picked up 8,500 pounds of trash in Franklin County in a three month period.

The Public Works/Interagency Community Service Work Squads are authorized by F.S. 946.40. During FY 97-98, these inmate work squads performed over 3.6 million hours of free labor at a value of $33.9 million dollars (valued at $9.37 per hour*). The types of work performed by these squads include roadway and right-of-way work for cities and counties, grounds and building maintenance, mowing, litter removal, painting, construction projects, structure repair, office moving and cleaning up our state forests. These work squads also assist both state and local governments in cleaning up after natural disasters, when requested.

The total value added/cost savings generated by the Community Work Squad Program for FY 97-98 was $47 million. Total program costs were $21 million, resulting in net value added/cost savings to Florida taxpayers in the amount of $26 million.

*The base hourly value is determined from the Wage Summary Report for Employment Services Job Openings for FY 97-98, prepared by the Department of Labor and Employment Security, with benefits for social security, retirement, health and basic life insurance added.

Contracted Public Works Squads

The 1997 Legislature provided positions for interagency community service squads to be funded by state and local agencies or municipalities. During FY 97-98, Contracted Public Work Squads were established at Mayo CI with Suwannee County, Putnam CI with the city of Palatka, and Dade Annex with the city of Homestead. The department is pursuing additional contracts to include contracting with the Department of Transportation to utilize this appropriation to expand inmate work squads performing work for DOT on the state's highway system.

New Construction, Renovation and Repair

Inmates spent more than 4.9 million hours performing work in new construction, correction of fire safety deficiencies, and repairs and renovations during FY 97-98. The value of this labor is estimated at $49.4 million based on a benefited hourly wage valued at $9.94 per hour.* This fiscal year there were approximately 369 construction projects ongoing throughout the department.

Weatherization Services Project

Weatherization Services is operated through Mid-Florida Community Services, Inc., which strives to alleviate crises for low income families. Their mission is to reduce the heating and cooling costs to improve energy efficiency for low income families. Inmates from Sumter Boot Camp assist with the renovation of the homes. They perform a variety of carpentry work such as roofing and hanging dry wall. The partnership provides work opportunities that will enable the inmates to enhance their skills.

The Neighborhood Action Team

The NAT represents a partnership between the City of Tampa, THAP Homes, Inc., and staff and inmates from Tampa Community Correctional Center. These teams have joined to assist the elderly, handicapped and economically depressed citizens and prevent them from losing their homes due to an inability to comply with Coding Enforcement Housing Standards. These citizens have been cited for having structurally unsound property. Inmates assigned to this project work with skilled carpenters to repair and paint the homes deemed repairable. THAP Homes Inc., is committed to providing employment, if available, to inmates when released from incarceration.

Construction Projects for
Other Governmental Agencies

Photo of inmates laying brick
  Laying Brick - Sumter Work Camp inmates working at the Citrus County Maximum Risk Facility.

The department's Design Build section located in the Bureau of Design and Construction has saved money for governmental agencies and provided additional work opportunities for inmates in construction related areas. Completed work projects include the Hendry Wilderness Camp, Tri County Work Camp Conversion, a privacy wall to separate a juvenile justice facility from a residential community in Orlando for the Department of Juvenile Justice, and the McCarty Building Renovation for the Department of Management Services. The following projects are currently under contract: Citrus County Maximum Risk Facility and Avon Park Detention Facility for the Department of Juvenile Justice.

Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles

The department has entered into a partnership with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to provide inmate labor from Jefferson Correctional Institution to work as first point of contact with customers. The inmates are trained to respond to inquiries regarding driving information such as general driver license requirements, suspensions, revocations, cancellations, insurance coverage requirements, and testing requirements. This program is expected to reduce waiting time and shorten response time to customers. A long term objective is to reduce the cost of this service to the citizens of Florida.

Distribution of Commodities

The department provides inmate labor to non-profit and charitable organizations dedicated to feeding the hungry, low-income and needy individuals and families throughout the state. The work squads are responsible for loading and unloading trucks filled with commodities, cleaning fresh produce that would otherwise be discarded, sorting, packing, and storing food items.

Aquaculture Program

Photo of inmate with catfish
  Looks Fishy to me - Assistant Superintendent Don Gladish of Central Florida Reception Center weighs catfish.

The department expanded its aquaculture program to include Cross City during 1997-98. At Hendry CI and Cross City CI combined, 15,931 pounds of catfish and 8,567 pounds of Tilapia was harvested this fiscal year, at an estimated value of $39,190. In addition to feeding and harvesting the fish, inmates also assist with maintaining the aquaculture equipment. During FY 1998-99, the DC plans to expand the aquaculture program to up to 12 additional correctional institutions.

Farm and Gardening Program

During 1997-98, 64 facilities participated in the farming and gardening program. This program involves the cultivation of approximately 462 acres. Inmates prepare the soil, plant seeds, hoe weeds and harvest and process the produce. This year, inmates produced about 2.6 million pounds of produce and worked over 505,000 hours in the program statewide. Because of weather conditions created by El Nino, excessive amounts of water, extreme heat and dry weather created unfavorable conditions for farm and gardening that resulted in reduced production.

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