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

Florida Department of Corrections
Julie L. Jones, Secretary

Issue 2: Programs Contributing to Recidivism Reduction and Maximizing Offenders' Functional Skills

GOAL: To contribute to recidivism reduction by providing programs, services and work opportunities that aid offenders to improve their societal and institutional adjustment.

Progress Achieved

The department has made significant strides in the analysis of offender programs and services needs that contribute to the reduction of recidivism. Education, transition skills, substance abuse treatment, and vocational training have proven to be major indicators that contribute to the reduction of offender recommitment rates in Florida. Collaborative prevention programs with community organizations, schools, and local and state agencies have also been instrumental in reducing the offender populations. We were awarded federal and state grants for implementing innovative and traditional programs in the areas of academic, special education, vocational/applied technology, life skills, substance abuse treatment, and transition programs. In addition, Chaplaincy Services was strong in developing community volunteer resources. With the Correctional Distance Learning Network (CDLN), we were recognized as a national leader in the use of distance learning programs and strategies to address priority academic and life skills needs of offenders and the professional development of staff.

Recognition of the ongoing need for long-term result evaluation and the continuous improvement of programs is critical to identifying the actual cost and benefits of programmatic initiatives. Too often the results and impact of program efforts are not realistically quantifiable. Reasons some effective programs are discontinued include the lack of resources and interdepartmental collaboration in assessing the incremental process and outcome results of the initiatives. It is important that each program has a strong assessment component to measure the efficiency and effectiveness of program impact on institutional safety and offender development.

Objective 2-1:

Given the results of individual offender risk and needs assessments identified in Issue 1, Objective 1-1, the department will provide programs and services to meet 75% of these identified needs by June 30, 2002.

Performance Assessment
  • Data collection in department computer records continues to demonstrate the increase of education levels through participation in education programs. Educational gains are measured by pre and post tests of the Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE).

  • Transition programs incorporate employability skills training to improve the inmate's ability to secure and maintain employment.

  • This is an ongoing objective estimated for an increase of 10% annually. There was a 12% increase in the number of Wellness Education related certificates (Mastery of Wellness, Freshstart, and National Federation of Professional Trainers) earned by inmates from FY 1996-97 to FY 1997-98.

  • Distance learning was integrated into inmate programs by the use of a GED series. (BSD) Distance learning was integrated into approximately 5% of Staff Development training programs.

  • We have steadily increased the number of enhanced transition programs at selected institutions/facilities. Presently, 17 institutions/facilities deliver the 100-hour enhanced transition program for the inmate population. In addition, we recently implemented Project Re-Connect--an offender job placement program. Inmates completing GED and or Vocational Education programs are assisted with job placement upon release to the community.

  • Pre-release orientation is provided to all work release inmates.

  • 100% of inmates diagnosed with sexual disorders are provided treatment opportunities within available resources.

  • 100% of those diagnosed as having mental illness and agreeable to intervention are provided mental health services. 60 % of those inmates considered to have behavioral problems are referred to mental health for assessment and to identify those amenable to mental health interventions.

  • 100% of all inmates received into custody are assessed for physical and mental health needs. Established mental health treatment interventions are offered to all of those assessed with a mental illness that impairs their ability to adjust to incarceration.

  • Providing substance abuse education and treatment is ongoing. We have programs in 51 facilities (approximately 80% of institutions). 100% of new admissions are screened for possible need for treatment and placed in a program or on a waiting list as appropriate.

  • As of July 1997, over 25 religions were practicing in our facilities. In addition, chaplains are conducting or supervising religion education courses.

  • The holistic program strategy was limited to female institutions for this fiscal period. The program was the "Family of Children And Adults Under Stress" FOCAUS.

Objective 2-2:

With a current base rate of work assignments for 61% for inmates available for work, the department will provide full-time work (at least 40 hours a week) for 100% of the inmates available for assignment to work by December 31, 2002.

Performance Assessment
  • 100% of the inmates on work release (served by Community Corrections) are working.

  • A Corrections Action Team was established in 1997 to study this issue leading to plan development. The status of work and program assignments in relationship to a 40-hour week is undergoing review by this team, through utilization of regional teams. Providing at least a 40-hour week in a correctional environment is similar but different than providing a 40-hour week in the "free" community. This team is evaluating these differences as they relate to the overall issue of providing a 40-hour week for assignments. An assessment is underway to determine which assignments provide for at least a 40-hour week and those that do not in major institutions, work camps, and road prisons. From this information, the team will then begin to examine available alternatives to enable those current assignments that do not provide for a 40-hour week to be able to do so.

  • We requested 421 positions and nearly $25 million to address inmate idleness issues. The legislature appropriated 75 positions and $3.7 million toward this effort.

Objective 2-3:

Given the rate of 21.5% of probations revoked for technical violations, the department will reduce the rate by 5% by June 30,2001.

Performance Assessment

  • Automated risk assessment data was implemented in eight circuits across the state.

  • This mandate to reduce probation revoked for technical violations is being met at the Circuit level on an annual basis and field officers are trained in available community resources. Also, supervisors through the case review process on an annual or more frequent basis review utilization of available community-based resources.

  • Various programs throughout the state provide a life management skill programming. The level and degree of life management services provided is dependent on the offender's needs. All offenders are assessed as to programming needs at the time of referral to a treatment provider.

  • Screening inmates for substance abuse problems is a permanent part of the reception process. Beginning February 1998, all new admissions are asked the four questions prior substance abuse and based on their score and other precursors, they may be asked an additional 12 questions to determine treatment needs. The score received on the 16 questions determines the program recommendation for the inmate. A further assessment of the inmate confirms this recommendation or recommends a new one.

  • Offender needs are identified prior to sentencing through the pre-sentence - investigation process, the sentencing guideline scoresheet process, and the violation report process. Appropriate recommendations for utilization of substance abuse treatment are made to the Courts. All offenders ordered by the court to receive substance abuse evaluations are assessed at the time of referral to identify the actual degree of drug involvement of the offender and to determine the appropriate level of treatment. The department tracks treatment services received from the referral through completion with ongoing progress reports provided to the supervising officer and the courts.

  • Community Corrections has many contracts or access to education and employment services in each judicial circuit. One long-term program involves a contract with Florida Job Services with six dedicated service centers a round the state. Also, the Probationers Education Growth (PEG) program is operational statewide. This is an ongoing effort.

  • Within the limits of treatment resources, 100% of those who complete our treatment program are referred to appropriate community based treatment options.

  • Identification and referral of community based mental health programs that may benefit offenders with sexual disorders or as required as a special condition of supervision, is done in all 20 judicial circuits.

  • Referring violent or disruptive offenders to community programs that address their needs or as required by supervision order and where available, is done.
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