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

Florida Department of Corrections
Timothy H. Cannon, Interim Secretary

Executive Summary

(For a summary of changes and modifications to previous plans effective in the Agency Strategic Plan FY 1998-2003, See Appendix 1)

The format of this plan has changed radically from that adopted in previous years. The two strategic issues target subjects of particular public concern, specifically public safety and recidivism reduction. A summary description introduces each strategic issue. This is followed by a statement of the department's strengths and weaknesses as they relate to the issue, and associated opportunities and threats (SWOT Analysis). Each issue incorporates a number of goals. Key indicators of progress toward goals and objectives are shown immediately after each goal statement. Objectives from previous plans have been reexamined and updated or deleted as necessary. New objectives have been established where appropriate.

Strategic management issues that relate to department administration are described in an addendum to this strategic plan. While not technically a part of the Agency Strategic Plan governed by Section 186.021 F.S., these issues must be addressed effectively if the ASP issues are to have a chance of successful resolution.

Issue 1: Ensuring Public Safety by Effective Custody and Supervision of Offenders.

Protection of the public is the foremost responsibility of the Department of Corrections. Ensuring this involves accurate classification of inmates and offenders under community supervision and effective levels of institutional security, community supervision, and community support. The actual overall population of inmates and supervised persons will continue to increase because of the increase in inmate time served and the 1995 Florida Legislature's mandate that inmates must serve 85% of their sentence. Following these and other mandated changes, there are indications of increased inmate tension and unrest.

SWOT Analysis

Strengths

  • Strong classification ability;
  • Demonstrated effectiveness in prison construction;
  • Proven security management practices;
  • Mature, professional staff,
  • Openness and flexibility in management.

Weaknesses

  • Pressure on classification staff,
  • Older facilities needing renovation and upgrading to accommodate longer incarcerations;
  • Distribution and attrition of experienced talent pool;
  • Limitations on support services;
  • Internal communication effectiveness.

Opportunities

  • Automation of inmate classification;
  • Risk classification pilot project;
  • Targeted inmate identification program;
  • Organizational scope;
  • Flexibility in construction demands;
  • Community partnerships.

Threats

  • Staff attrition due to non-competitive compensation;
  • Changes in law;
  • Escalating violence; gangs, terrorism and juvenile offenders;
  • Public/community attitudes toward offenders;
  • Inadequate funding, or funding restrictions.

GOAL 1-1: To properly assess, classify and place inmates and offenders according to their risk and needs.

  • The department is developing a formal assessment process which will produce a more accurate, data-based inmate classification system to ensure that resources are used effectively, that prison life is orderly and safe, and that the chances for escape are eliminated. This system will be in place by December 31, 1998.
  • In addition, an advanced automated classification system is necessary for Community Supervision where offenders are increasingly diverted from prison sentences. This results in a growing ratio of violent and disruptive offenders in the community as well as in prison. To prepare for this need, the Department has developed the Risk Classification Pilot Project in conjunction with the National Institute of Justice. This model predicts the likelihood that offenders will reoffend, technically revoke, or abscond. Following pilot testing, full implementation is expected for December 1998.
  • The Department has utilized the Client Management Classification system since 1994 for the relatively small community control population. Results were sufficiently encouraging to warrant its extension to Probation and Restitution offenders in 1995, and future plans include an expansion to all offenders participating in community corrections contracted non-secure drug treatment programs.
  • The ultimate objective of the classification and assessment projects currently developed is a comprehensive, automated case management system for both inmates and offenders under community supervision. The target date for full implementation of this system is July 2003.

GOAL 1-2: Construct, operate and maintain sufficient and appropriate prison capacity

  • The violent and disruptive inmate population has risen overall by 52.2% since 1993 to more Om 14,600 inmates, of whom only slightly more than a third can be placed in secure housing. So that prison management shall have the capacity to use single cell housing for violent and disruptive inmates and other inmates requiring special management, the department will continue to increase the percentage of single cell housing commensurate with the increase in numbers of these inmates.

GOAL 1-3: Operate safe and secure institutions and minimize disruptions in correctional facilities.

  • Violent and disruptive inmates detract from the effectiveness of work, job training and treatment programs. Their placement in facilities that have control of movement and behavior as their primary mission will have a positive impact on other offenders. The department expects a reduction in the rate of assaults as an outcome measure.
  • Some of the facilities designed and built to house lower-security inmates are now being used for higher security inmates. Nonetheless, the rate of escapes from major institutions and work camps has declined to its lowest level for the last six years. The department's objective is a zero escape rate.
  • Supervision is another factor affecting escape rates. Staffing at community residential facilities is limited and overall staff turnover rates are high. This is partly because local governments are increasing their salaries faster than the state, and partly because of improved job opportunities elsewhere and the nature of correctional work. Aggravating the problem are the increasing number of sites designated as high security areas, which require additional staff, and the very large number of inmates who require transportation, necessitating diversion of staff from security duties.
  • The department will upgrade all security components at its facilities to conform with mission requirements.
  • The department seeks to identify all gang members and follows a "No Tolerance" approach to gang involvement and activity. Gang members accumulate many more disciplinary reports than non-members. The Department has identified over 300 gangs and approximately 1,500 members and suspected members in correctional institutions.

GOAL 1-4: To provide sufficient numbers of qualified correctional and probation staff to achieve effective and efficient custody and supervision of sentenced offenders

  • Recruiting and maintaining sufficient staff is key to provision of services as well as security. Employee recruitment and retention presents a continuing problem. An inequity continues between the salaries of entry-level correctional officers and law enforcement officers. These continuing pay disparities have led certain areas of the department (particularly in South Florida) to experience excessive turnover, as well as recruitment problems. In the absence of further measures to ensure salary equity, the department will provide its staff with programs and resources to help offset the inherent dangers of their employment.

Issue 2: Programs Contributing to Recidivism Prevention.

Public safety requires provision of programs for offenders, at least 90% of whom will at some point in time be released back to the community. These programs include service and work opportunities that target the problems which lead to crime: substance abuse and deficiencies in education, job skills and life and social skills. The department plans to address these issues by integrating education and job training with institutional and industrial work, to maximize the individual's productivity through incarceration and community supervision, and after release. Although success in this area comes in small increments, department studies show that the recidivism rate (offenders returned to incarceration or supervision) over 24 months has declined from nearly 40% to 18% between FY 1988-89 and FY 1993-94. Even the higher figure is far removed from the 70-80% re-offense rates often quoted in the media. Perhaps because of this constant barrage of unfavorable publicity, the department must contend with marginal public support and inadequate funding for work programs. This issue presents a clear public safety need and opportunity for cost avoidance.

SWOT Analysis

Strengths

  • Progressive leadership;
  • Public support for education services and substance abuse treatment;
  • Improving education and vocational training capabilities;
  • Library services;
  • Comprehensive drug treatment programs;
  • Chaplaincy services;
  • Efficient health care services; comprehensive inmate work programs.
Weaknesses
  • Teacher shortage;
  • Program appropriateness;
  • Insufficient funding resources;
  • Limited motivational incentives;
  • Impediments to inmate work programs;
  • Librarian vacancies and staff shortages;
  • Litigation over law library programs;
  • Lack of public awareness of the department's mission;
  • Lack of funding for partnership initiatives.
Opportunities
  • Computer technology;
  • Volunteers;
  • Crime prevention;
  • Special needs supervised offenders;
  • Returns on tax dollars;
  • Partnerships and funding opportunities.
Threats
  • Budget cuts;
  • Potential erosion of inmate health care;
  • Public attitudes.

GOAL 2-1: To contribute to recidivism reduction by providing educational and vocational programs, and related services that maximize offenders' functional skills in order to aid in their societal and institutional adjustment.

  • Literacy is a prime focus of the educational program. By law, certain inmates approaching release are required to participate in the Mandatory Literacy Program. Computer-Assisted Instruction (CAI) reduces the time most inmates need to raise their reading levels and CAI will continue to be emphasized and enhanced. Library services assists this program. The number of inmates requiring Special Education services has increased drastically over the past six years.
  • Development and expansion of vocational education resulted in FY 1996-97 in 35 vocational disciplines being taught in 45 different correctional facilities.
  • The Florida Corrections Distance Learning Network (CDLN) consists of 38 sites combining satellite and multipoint video conferencing systems.
  • The department complies with the order of the Supreme Court by providing inmates with access to a network of 66 law libraries, trained inmate law clerks and legal support services.
  • The transition skills curriculum includes class modules in employability skills, decision making, problem solving, continuing education and community re-entry.
  • By June 30, 2002, the department plans to provide educational and vocational training programs and related services to at least 75% of the inmates requiring them, contingent on funding availability. The success of programs designed to improve inmate literacy and employability skills will be monitored.
  • The Bureau of Program Services serves as advocate for inmates with special needs. The development, continuation and expansion of programs for offenders that have special needs (youth, females and elderly inmates) are recognized by the department as high priorities.

GOAL 2-2: To provide effective basic health care treatment to inmates that reduces the potential spread of disease by unhealthy inmates inside the institution and those inmates scheduled for release.

  • Proper diagnosis of health conditions on inmate entry to the system prevents further escalation of health care costs and minimizes the public health risks. Mental illness which is not properly diagnosed may lead to poor institutional adjustment and increase dangers for other inmates and staff, as well as posing problems in the community after release.
  • The department provides after-care planning to assist the inmate on return to the community.
  • The Wellness Education Program teaches inmates to take responsibility for their own health and well being.

GOAL 2-3: To contribute to recidivism reduction by providing institutional and community based drug treatment programs and other services that aid offenders in the avoidance of substance abuse and their successful reintegration into the community.

  • Several studies have indicated positive outcomes for inmates who participate in Substance Abuse Treatment and Education Programs. These outcomes include improved inmate adjustment resulting in cost savings to the department, and after release measurable decreases in recommitment and increases in employment. The department will report to the public on these outcome measures.
  • Treatment programs for community supervised populations cannot be mandated except by court order. However, the number of these offenders receiving substance abuse treatment has steadily increased, and outcomes will be measures and evaluated with the same rigor as for inmate programs.
  • In addition to substance abuse, Community Corrections offers an array of other programs designed to reduce recidivism. These include psychological services and classes to improve life management, job skills, education and employment opportunities. Violent and disruptive offenders are referred to community programs to address their needs, if such programs are available. The department will work to expand all these options within each judicial circuit.
  • Furthering the department's involvement in public safety and offender accountability, the Florida legislature established, in 1995, the Office of Certification and Monitoring of Batterers' Intervention Programs within the Department of Corrections. This office, housed under the Assistant Secretary for Community Corrections, began certifying and monitoring batterers' intervention programs throughout the state effective July 1, 1996.

GOAL 2-4: To provide inmates the opportunity to discover and express their religious faith while incarcerated and to aid them spiritually and practically to turn away from their criminal lifestyles.

  • Evaluation studies of the impact of religious activity on both the institutional adjustment and successful re-entry to the community have been initiated by the department. Preliminary results clearly confirm the value of religious activities for positive change in a person's value system and personal growth and development.
  • The department has developed a strong core of citizen volunteers. Volunteers provided more than 240,000 hours of service in FY 1996-97. The department is expanding its recruitment efforts to involve volunteers in education, vocational, treatment and personal betterment programs.

GOAL 2-5: To place inmates in work assignments that produce substantive results, reduce inmate idleness and provide opportunities to improve Working skills.

  • A department analysis in December 1996 reported that there were 9,3 18 inmates who were available for work assignment, but for whom there was no meaningful work available. The actual number is subject to change. Security considerations and funding are the primary obstacles to provision of work/program activities to keep inmates productively occupied and with opportunities for self-improvement.
  • The department plans to provide full-time work for all available inmates by December 31, 2003, and to increase by IO% the number of new facilities participating in the Community Work Squad Program.
  • The department continues to use inmate labor to build department and other agency buildings.

GOAL 2-6: To find and initiate partnerships with public or private agencies/organizations that will further fulfillment of the department's mission.

  • The department believes that partnerships are important to the twin goals of reducing recidivism and initial entries to the correctional system, and to getting more done at less cost. In January 1995, there were 222 partnership agreements with public and private organizations. Goals include crime reduction, community enhancement, school and work improvement opportunities. In addition, the department will:
  • promote the utilization of citizen volunteers within community partnerships and increase program offerings at youthful offender institutions and for offenders under community supervision.
  • strengthen the relationship with other public agencies and expand the Partners In Excellence Program statewide.
  • strengthen services to families of incarcerated parents.
  • support the establishment of drug courts in all judicial circuits.
  • increase the number of mutually beneficial partnerships with educational and vocational training. institutions and facilitate the establishment of a national corrections partnership information exchange network.
  • determine national best practices for identified operational functions.
  • evaluate all partnership agreements against six major success factors. This system will be in place by June 30, 2002.