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

Florida Department of Corrections
Michael D. Crews, Secretary

Issue 6: Effective Communication with Department Staff and the Public

GOAL: To keep staff and the public well informed of agency issues, policies and practices.

Progress Achieved

Our efforts to enhance the knowledge of our staff and the public on agency operations were successful. Surveys were conducted with the general public, the news media and our staff, with the assistance of the University of Florida . A second survey of the general public showed improved understanding of the percentage of sentence served, the perception that inmates do work, and the kind of work inmates perform.

The effectiveness our website and its impact on the public is a true success story. Public Internet inquires rose 67% from June 97 to June 98. The media routinely say the Internet has helped educate them on departmental polices and procedures.

Our 15,000 monthly issues of The Correctional Compass, our internal magazine, highlight our efforts to enhance understanding and communication of departmental issues by our staff. Supporting this effort is our distribution of several new educational videos on the department's history, the function of correctional and probation officers. This is supported by a Distance Learning Satellite system with down-links at 14 statewide locations for the education of staff, daily distribution of news clips and press releases, and bulletins on a department-wide computer system.

Objective 6-1:

By July 1, 1999, increase internal target groups' knowledge of agency issues, policies, and practices as determined by responses to pre- and post-surveys conducted between December 1997 and December 1998.

Performance Assessment
  • We completed three surveys with assistance from the University of Florida to gather baseline data on the respondents' knowledge and image of the DC. This was required in the ASP to "keep staff and the public well informed of agency issues, policies and practices." The three groups surveyed were the general pubic and news media (external target groups), and DC staff (internal target group). A follow-up survey of the general public was conducted, and similar follow-up surveys are planned in 1998 for the news media and DC staff. (It should be noted that the internal and external target groups listed in this copy of the ASP were changed. For example, offenders were removed from the list as an internal target group. The external target group was also altered.)

  • To review the effectiveness of our current method of internal information dissemination, we contracted with the University of Florida to re-survey staff for knowledge and perception of department policies and functions. The strategy will be completed in December 1998.

  • The department continues the daily distribution of news clips, press releases and department-wide computer system (SYSM) Bulletins. We also provide Distance Learning Satellite downlinks at 14 statewide locations for the education of staff in the field. New initiatives in staff communication included a self test on department knowledge and articles on Internet use and content, legal and policy issues in the over 15,000 monthly issues of The Correctional Compass. In addition, we distributed several new educational videos on the history of the department and the functions of correctional and probation officers. We have established a Museum of the History of Corrections in Florida.

  • No progress was made on reassessing the level of knowledge of correctional issues, policies, and practices possessed by internal target groups. However we expect to be completed in November 1998.

  • No progress was made on reassessing the image of the department held by internal target groups. However we expect to conduct the reassessment in November 1998.

Objective 6-2:

By July 1, 1999 increase external target groups' knowledge of agency issues, policies, and practices as determined by responses to pre- and post-surveys conducted between December 1997 and December 1998.

Performance Assessment
  • We contracted with the University of Florida Bureau of Economic and Business Research to determine the baseline knowledge of department functions and policies by the external target populations. A re-survey of the target population showed improved understanding of percentage of sentence served, as well as, their perception of the work inmates are required to perform.

  • To assess the effectiveness of public use of the Internet for inmate information and inquiries the office compared monthly inquiries through Correspondence Control and found an increase from 612 in June of 1997 to 904 in June 1998. The increase was almost entirely attributable to Internet e-mail inquiries. Media acknowledge that Internet access has helped educate them on the our policies and that expansion of Internet use gives an overall impression of our more positive pro-active stance.

  • To improve our staff's ability to understand and communicate pertinent department issues and facts, we distribute daily information and press releases as well as schedule media interviews with our executive staff. We also provide a news clip service to key legislative and media staff. The Correctional Compass and Information Services press releases are distributed via the Internet. Positive press has resulted from our expanded use of the Internet and widely distributed information on the awards won by our Internet site. News release videos were added to the Internet offerings, allowing television stations to run department produced videos as news features.

  • Staff routinely educates editors and reporters by "walking them through" the steps of effectively using the material provided on the Internet. Information Services continually schedules presentations to newspaper and television editorial boards and key civic groups throughout the state. Numerous videos on the history and function of the department are provided for public service broadcast to educate viewers on our mission. The opening of the Museum of the History of Corrections will increase public awareness of the role of corrections in the state.

  • Reassessing the knowledge level of correctional issues, policies and practices by external target groups is 50% complete. The general public portion of this strategy was completed in May 1998. Completion of the media survey is expected by November 1998.

  • Reassessing the image of the department held by external target groups is 50% complete. The general public portion of this strategy was completed in May 1998. The media survey should be completed by November 1998.