GOAL: Partnership contracts/agreements with public and private organizations that meet the department's six main evaluation factors.
Department leadership is strong and progressive. It has committed the department to the task of seeking the best management practices among any and all private/public organizations and applying them to corrections.
After its initial year, appropriations for the Community Partnership Act have been lacking and its implementation stalled. The effectiveness of the Safe Streets Act has suffered as a consequence.
Community crime prevention opportunities exist for the department to develop more partnerships in prevention programs for urban teenagers, including juveniles. Funding for these prevention programs is required.
Partnerships and funding:
Partnership linkages with universities, other agencies and the private sector offer opportunities for additional federal dollars and foundation and corporate grant funds to provide additional support for programs and activities of the Department. The newly established Foundation for Partnerships in Correctional Excellence is a direct support organization to the Florida Department of Corrections, authorized by Chapter 944.802 F.S. (1996) and organized as a 501 (c)(3) not for profit foundation to provide additional means of financial support. The Foundation will seek additional resources from various sources including-foundations, corporations, government and memberships to assist programs and employees of the department.
Opportunities exist to increase community awareness of inmate releases involving high profile cases, early and regular releases through a communication's partnership with the FDLE and local law enforcement.
Valuable work in prevention could be threatened by short-sighted attitudes among the public related to support for preventive programs for at-risk youth and transition programs for released offenders.
Partnership of policies and resources has filtered into all aspects of the criminal justice system, and to the local communities as well. Drug courts and changes in sentencing guidelines have successfully reduced the percentage of drug admissions to prison, thereby conserving precious prison beds for violent and predatory criminals. Counties, local treatment providers, local communities, school boards, and mental health providers have all played an important role with the criminal justice system and the department in bringing about this remarkable change. Inmates incarcerated on or after October 1, 1996 are now serving 85 percent of their sentence and non-violent offenders are held accountable for their crimes, paying victim restitution, cost of supervision, and receiving appropriate programming and job placement in the community. It is vital to the department and the state that this form of partnership continues to be supported by the necessary resources.
A continuing challenge for the Department is to acquire sufficient resources to meet the demands of the prison system and the community supervision program without compromising public or employee safety. In 1996 the Legislature authorized creation of a direct support organization for the department, a 501 (c)(3) not for profit foundation, to provide an additional means of seeking financial support for activities and programs of the Department. The Foundation for Partnerships in Correctional Excellence will help the Department access additional resources from foundations, corporations, government and broad-based membership support.
Evaluation is a key component of every activity of the department. Partnerships are no exception to this assessment. The department has identified factors for assessing partnerships. They are:
SM Objective 3-1:
By June 30, 2002, 100% of the department's partnerships will comply with established evaluative criteria and produce results stated in the individual partnership agreements.
Partnerships with police
The Department has initiated several community based partnerships with police throughout the state. The primary objectives are to increase law enforcement (police and correctional probation officer) presence in neighborhoods and enhance public safety. Community policing is more than just enforcing the law. Rather, it takes police, probation officers and citizens working together to find solutions to a wide array of community problems. Community policing also helps build better relations between law enforcement agencies and communities. This has proven true even in communities that traditionally have been the most wary of police.
The department has established a partnership with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) to improve community awareness of inmate releases. FDLE has established a connection on its internet web site for the public to access photos, criminal histories, release dates and other pertinent information on inmates who have been released from prison. The web site connection was initiated in response to community sensitivity regarding the number of releases resulting from the Lynce v. Mathis Supreme Court decision in early 1997. The department provides FDLE with digitized photos and relevant criminal history information prior to the release of inmates affected by the Lynce decision. The internet community awareness initiative will be expanded in the future to include photos and criminal history information on all inmates release from prison in Florida.
SM Objective 3-2:
By June 30, 2000, strengthen partnerships with police and other criminal justice agencies that result in timely, accurate reports that assist those agencies in crime prevention and control, as measured by satisfaction survey results annually.
Sentencing Policy: Bringing Partnerships to the Criminal Justice System
Sentencing policy drives many aspects of the criminal justice system. The nature, operations, and focus of the Department of Corrections, the courts and police agencies are in a large part, determined by established sentencing policy. Regarding the Department of Corrections, sentencing policy affects the number of beds to be constructed, whether or not early release will be necessary, the number of offenders under supervision in the community and how the sentencing guidelines system will work.
One of the continuing issues in Florida's adoption of its various sentencing policies has been the attempt to ensure matching the requisite correctional resources to effect the policy as intended. The concern of resource commitment is a most difficult one and is an issue reflective of the dilemma confronted by policy makers when debating the utilization of limited public funds.
The implementation of the department's responsibilities regarding sentencing guidelines called for examining the most efficient means by which the legislative mandates concerning scoresheet production, dissemination, preparation, collection, and analysis could be achieved. A computer scoresheet preparation and collection program was developed and is currently in use by scoresheet preparers in the department as well as by participating state attorneys. Legislation passed during the 1996 session established the department as the sole scoresheet preparer effective October 1, 1997. Automation has increased scoresheet accuracy and alleviated the need to manually complete detailed and technical functions inherent to scoresheet preparation. This is the nation's only fully automated and legally accurate sentencing guidelines preparation and collection mechanism.
The department must continually assess available resources and coordinate sentencing decisions with circuit judges, when possible, to utilize those resources most effectively. To this end, diversionary efforts must be measured for effectiveness. Problems of definition will be resolved by defining "lesser offenders" as those falling within the discretionary range of sentencing guidelines points. The department's legislative budget requests should match the anticipated trends in community-based sanctions evolving from the new sentencing guidelines. To ensure that the intent of the Safe Streets Initiative are met, the funding available for community supervision should not be adversely affected by prison funding requirements.
SM Objective 3-3:
By June 30, 2001, strengthen partnerships with state attorneys, clerks of the court, sentencing judges, and other criminal justice agencies that result in timely, accurate, and complete sentencing guidelines scoresheets, as measured by results of annual reports.
The Dialogues and Linkages Program
Since its inception in 1993, the department's Dialogues and Linkages Program has helped further the agency's strategic plan by forging multi-agency partnerships. The program's purpose is to work with higher education institutions, other public agencies and private organizations to achieve successful results in the public safety and social issues arenas. The program is founded upon the department's belief that there is more involved in achieving safety and quality of life in our communities than simply building more prison beds. Of equal importance is reducing the number of initial entries into the correctional system and significantly reducing high rates of recidivism.
The program has generated significant opportunities in the areas of public awareness, inmate programs, innovative use of technology, staff development and applied research. The program has brought together the powerful forces of academic research and experienced correctional leadership to develop, test and implement programs which result in increased public safety. Initiatives developed through the Dialogues and Linkages Program have contributed to progress in each critical issue area of the strategic plan. It is an effort in keeping with the Governor's quality management initiative. Since that quality management and "re-inventing government" will continue to be the focus of state government, the Dialogues and Linkages Program will continue to move the department toward greater efficiency through application of advanced methods and innovative solutions to correctional challenges.
SM Objective 3-4:
By 2000, increase mutually beneficial partnerships with educational and vocational training institutions and other public and private organizations by 50% above the baseline number of 6 partnerships in effect on June 30, 1996.
Health Services Partnership Initiatives
While the Department of Corrections has its own 153 bed licensed hospital at North Florida Reception Center there are also continuing partnership arrangements through 5 major central office hospital contracts and 32 regional hospital contracts that provide access to community emergency room services and hospitalization beyond the capability of the Department. These partnerships provide significant cost avoidance over the usual and customary hospitalization charges. The five major central office hospital contracts provide the Department about 50% reduction in customary hospital charges.
In cooperation with a number of graduate training programs throughout Florida, Department of Corrections institutions are available as training sites for internship and practicum rotations.
There is an endodontic and oral surgery referral service agreement between the Department of Corrections and the University of Florida. Residents of the University come one day a week to North Florida Reception Center to handle cases beyond the scope of the department's general dentists. Inmate patients are screened and prioritized for these specialty dental services.
The department has 19 facilities that provide linkages to community based mental health treatment resources for inmates in need of continued care. On-site mental health staff contact area providers, arrange appointments and provide post-release continuity of care.
The Department of Health and the Department of Corrections has entered into partnership to reduce the incidence of HIV/AIDS by educating inmates and staff in the prevention of HIV/AIDS. The focus is upon an enhanced counseling/peer education project. Inmate participation is voluntary, with the intent of referring project graduates to the appropriate Department of Health community office or community organization upon release.
SM Objective 3-5:
By June 30, 1999, to achieve quality and cost benefits for health services to inmates, the department will identify, coordinate, develop, implement, and evaluate 100 percent of the Health Services partnership initiatives.