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

Florida Department of Corrections
Timothy H. Cannon, Interim Secretary

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

Key indicators in assessing progress toward Goal 2-1:

(Baselines indicated in parentheses)

  1. Percent of inmates reoffending within 24 months by fiscal year. (91/92: 27.6%)

  2. Percentage of identified offender needs addressed by programs and services. (Baseline Projected for 1998-99 50%)

  3. Percent of inmates placed in a facility where at least one of the inmate's primary program needs is provided. (95/96: 80.0)


Condition Descriptions, Objectives and Strategies

Education and Job training

Experience of the department has indicated that offenders sentenced to prison or to community supervision often lack knowledge, skills, and work experience needed to function successfully in the free community. Few programs or services for offenders provide successful results for all participants. Many programs do help significant numbers of participants become productive citizens and turn away from continued criminal activity. According to a 1997 study done by the University of Florida, over 90% of the Florida residents surveyed believe offenders should receive education services and substance abuse treatment.4

Under the provisions of Section 944.801 Florida Statutes, inmate literacy is given high priority. Inmates who have two years or more remaining on their sentence (and not serving a life sentence) at the time they are received at an institution and who lack basic and functional literacy skills (testing below the ninth grade level) are required to attend at least 150 hours of sequential instruction in a correctional adult basic education program.

The highest priority of inmate participation in the Mandatory Literacy Program (MLP) is the focus on youthful offenders and inmates nearing release from the correctional system. Computer-Assisted Instruction (CAI) will continue to be emphasized and enhanced. There are 23 CAI Labs operating at 43 correctional institutions. These labs decrease the time most inmates need to raise their literacy levels.

The number of inmates receiving Special Education services has increased dramatically since the 1990-1991 fiscal year. Chart 2-3 shows the trend toward the increasing number of inmates served during the past six years.5

Inmates Receiving
Special Education Services

Thumbnail of Chart (Inmates Receiving Special Education Services)
Chart 2-3. Click for larger view.
Vocational education programs are continuously reviewed for labor market demand. New vocational programs offered reflect the latest labor market information that indicates employment opportunities available through the year 2000. Recent successes in vocational education serve as a solid foundation for expansion and improvement in the type and quality of vocational courses available to inmates.6 Development and expansion of vocational education in FY 1996/1997 resulted in 41 vocational disciplines being taught at 44 different correctional facilities. In addition, there are 19 contract vocational programs at 11 institutions.

A key innovation in correctional education is the Florida Corrections Distance Learning Network (CDLN), consisting of 38 sites combining satellite and multipoint video conferencing systems. The network meets two critical needs of the department: efficient and cost effective educational services for offenders, both incarcerated and supervised; and, centralized support for staff development and training. The primary emphasis of the network is inmate education, with programming to cover academics, vocational training, and life management skills. Distance Learning is now widely recognized as not only the newest force in education, but one of the most successful, particularly for specialized student populations. In utilizing the latest technology to meet the educational needs of Florida's inmate population the department has become a national leader in prison education solutions for the 21st century.7

The transition skills curriculum consists of class modules in employability skills, decision making, problem solving, continuing education and community re-entry concerns. The purpose of this program is to provide inmates with fundamental skills that will prepare them for a successful re-entry into the community.

The department's Library Services program manages the delivery of general library and law library services at correctional institutions and facilities.

Per order of the U.S. Supreme Court in Bounds v. Smith (1997), the department is also required to provide inmates with access to legal research materials, support services, and persons trained in the law. The department complies with this requirement by providing inmates with access to:

  • A network of 66 law libraries
  • Trained inmate law clerks
  • Legal support services
As documented in a 1995 study by the Florida Council on Vocational Education, interventions within a correctional setting that enable inmates to rejoin society as contributing members are worthwhile investments. This same study indicated that the department has increased inmate skills and abilities that result in an increase in societal and institutional adjustment.8

Programs for special needs inmates

In order to ensure development of programs that are age and gender specific the department organized a specific element, the Bureau of Program Services, to serve as an advocacy for inmates with special needs. The special need population includes youth, female and elderly inmates. The development, continuation and expansion of programs for offenders that have special needs are recognized by the department as high priorities. The department also recognizes the importance and cost effectiveness of minimizing inmate idleness, among special needs inmates as well as the rest of the inmate population. Therefore, development and implementation of meaningful programs for these inmates becomes important to their overall institutional adjustment and can assist them in making a more positive transition back to the community.

Objective 2-1.1

By June 30, 2002 provide educational and vocational training programs and related services to at least 75% of the inmates identified as requiring these services.

(Work, Training and Restitution Program)

Projection Table
FY 98-99
50%
FY 99-2000
58%
FY 2000-01
75%
FY 2000-02
50%

Strategies:

  1. Prioritize ranking for placement of inmates in programs. Lead Org. Unit: Security and Institutional Management, Other Org. Unit: Community Corrections
  2. Provide and monitor the success of programs designed to improve inmate literacy and employability skills. Lead Org. Unit: Education and Job Training; Other Org. Unit: Executive Services
  3. Integrate distance learning into inmate programs and staff development. Lead Org. Units: Education and Job Training and Executive Services.
  4. Provide transition programs for inmates being released to the community. Lead Org. Unit: Education and Job Training; Other Org. Units: Security and Institutional Management; Community Corrections
  5. Provide library services allowing inmates opportunities to achieve functional literacy, to read and to participate in programs that promote personal improvement. Lead Org. Unit: Education and Job Training. Other Org. Units: Regions; Institutions
  6. Provide inmates with the legal research materials, law clerks, and legal support services they need to secure their constitutional right of access to the courts. Lead Org. Unit: Education and Job Training. Other Org. Units: Regions; Institutions.
  7. Establish inmate law libraries, literacy centers and youthful offender projects using personal computers and CD-ROM technology to minimize storage requirements. Lead Org. Units: Education and Job Training, Executive Services