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

Florida Department of Corrections
Michael D. Crews, Secretary

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

Note: Legislative Budget Request 8, Microcomputer and Local Area Network (LAN) Systems; Roster Management system supports this goal.

Trends And Conditions Analysis (TCA)

Protecting the public through effective incarceration of inmates is the department's highest priority. As the prison population increases with its corresponding rise in violent inmates, so have the challenges to maintain a safe and secure institutional environment for the department's staff and other inmates. These challenges are to eliminate escapes and reduce assault and batteries on staff and other inmates. There are numerous strategies the department is pursuing to meet these challenges. Some are ensuring adequate prison beds for each custody level, identifying security threat groups/gangs, decreasing the turnover of the correctional officer staff, and improving our ability to identify inmates who are security risks and in need of intervention programs.

Improved prison facilities combined with innovative security enhancements, enhanced classification, a professional staff and technological innovations, are impacting escapes. The trends show escapes are down and moving toward the department's and legislature's performance-based standard target of zero escapes per year. Escapes have dramatically declined in the last 10 years, from 1640 in FY 87-88 to 163 in FY 97-98. This table shows the declined in escapes over the last five fiscal years:

Escapes By Facility Type FY 93-94 FY 94-95 FY 95-96 FY 96-97 FY 97-98

Major institutions

56 37 13 9 8

Work Camps and Road Prisons

40 47 21 18 7

Community Correctional Centers and Drug Treatment Centers

228 224 242 164 148

Totals

324 308 276 191 163

In FY 97-98 there were 163 escapes with 155 (95.1%) recaptured. Of these 155 recaptures, 72 (46.5%) were recaptured within 24 hours.3

Affecting the downward trend of escapes are these in-place capabilities:

  • A major impact on escapes and institutional security is the 1995 enacted Florida Statutes 944.151. This legislation requires announced and unannounced security audits of all state and private correctional institutions be conducted. Since December 1995, a total of 80 unannounced security audits were completed. From July 97 to June 98, there were 28 unannounced and 30 announced security audits conducted on state and private institutions.
  • The Corrections Offender Network, on the department's website, makes available to the public and other criminal justice agencies information and photographs of inmates whom are currently incarcerated. In addition, it gives information about where they are to be released or when to be released, plus if they have escaped and have an outstanding arrest warrant. Criminal justice agencies have access to a detailed inmate search capability that includes data specific to their needs.

The second challenge of a safe and secure institutional environment involves the safety of the staff and other inmates. A common criterion is the number of batteries that occur on staff members and inmates.

Inmate-on-staff and inmate-on-inmate batteries are on the rise, thus indicating a greater threat potential for staff and inmates.4

  FY 92-93 FY 93-94 FY 94-95 FY 95-96 FY 96-97 FY 97-98
Inmate-on-Staff Batteries 275 386 481 720 756 712
Rate per 1,000 Inmates 5.6 7.2 8.1 11.3 11.7 10.8
Inmate-on-Inmate Batteries 978 959 1005 1239 1417 1410
Rate per 1,000 Inmates 20.0 17.8 17.0 19.6 22.1 21.5
Average Inmate Population 48,808 53,594 59,022 63,163 64,242 65,571

Inmate and violent inmate populations and custody classification trends are indicators of a safe institutional environment. A close look of these indicators reveals each is steadily growing larger:5

  • A growing inmate/violent inmate population, adversely impacted by longer sentences (85% of sentence to be served law of 1995), inmate crowding, and gain time and recreational reductions, exacerbate the volatility of the incarcerated. This in turn raises the threat level for correctional staff and other inmates.
  • From FY 87-88 to FY 89-90, inmate admissions climbed steadily, from 30,644 to 44,701. In the next six years, admissions decreased substantially (31.4%). In FY 96-97, the inmate admissions rose slightly to 21,951 and again in FY 97-98 to 22,654.

  • The September 98 Criminal Justice Estimating Conference (CJEC) projects that prison admissions will increase over the next five years as shown:

CJEC Prison
Admissions Projection
FY 98-99 FY 99-00 FY 00-01 FY 01-02 FY 02-03
27,878 29,388 30,462 30,877 30,957

  • The incarcerated population has increased steadily for the last 5 years; from 50,603 in 1993 to 66,280 in June 1998. This increase has moderated (3.0%) in the last 3 years.
  • The September 98 Criminal Justice Estimating Conference prison population projection calls for a steady increase:

CJEC Prison
Population Projection
FY 98-99 FY 99-00 FY 00-01 FY 01-02 FY 02-03
73,703 79,776 84,660 89,607 93,840

  • The violent inmate population increased 5.8 percent from 1997 to 1998. Violent inmates have primary offenses of murder, manslaughter, sexual offenses, robbery, and other violent offenses. Below is the increasing trend in the violent inmate population since 1990:

As Of June 30 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998
Violent Inmate
Population
19,521 22,368 24,005 26,443 28,648 30,706 32,619 35,572 37,644

  • The improving risk classification of inmates is resulting in higher custody levels that are indicative of a rising threat level against staff and other inmates, as well as, an indicator of security and special housing needs. Notice in the table below the increases in the medium and close custody levels:

Custody Level Trends
As of June 30 Minimum Medium Close
1994 17,479 17,016 19,636
1995 17,853 19,294 22,610
1996 17,696 20,375 24,849
1997 17,384 20,223 26,610
1998 16,321 21,051 27,470

The forecast of the close management population predicts an average 12 percent per year growth: 38,228 by the end of 1998; 44,477 for 1999; 49,991 for 2000; 55,501 for 2001; 61,024 for 2002.

In-place capabilities and other influences that affect the safe and secure institutional environment are:

  • Serving a longer sentence (1995 Legislature mandated serving 85 percent of sentence), combined with legislative limits on wellness activities, gain time and elimination of early release is compounding the security threat level for staff and other inmates. This risk is at its highest during the evening and night hours when, for up to 14 hours, the potential for inmate violence significantly increases because of idleness.
  • Contributing to the volatility of the inmate population is the change in lawful design capacity for housing inmates. The Legislature increased it from 133 percent to 150 percent in 1995. This means over crowding-more inmates per square foot increases the potential for inmate unrest or violence.
  • Stronger sentencing guidelines in 1995 lead to mandated incarceration for some offenders.
  • The 1997 Florida Legislature abolished the state's sentencing guidelines and replaced them with the Criminal Punishment Code (CPC) to be effective October 1, 1998. The primary purpose of sentencing is to punish the offender. Rehabilitation is a desired goal of the criminal justice system but is subordinate to the goal of punishment.
  • CPC allows for greater upward discretion in sentencing, increased penalties and lower mandatory prison thresholds. This means all felons have the potential to receive a prison sentence. Sentence maximums are longer, and sentencing point threshold changes increase when prison sentences become mandatory.
  • Impact estimates of CPC were 608 admissions in the first year, but has only resulted in 101 additional admissions. The estimate was reduced 50 percent.6

Security Threat Groups (STG) have a significant impact on the safety and security of institutions and a potentially devastating one. STGs or gangs come together in Florida's prison system and their ever-growing numbers pose an extremely dangerous threat to all staff. In 1995, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement assessed there were 304 gangs with 10,136 members in the state. Consequently, increased attention from law enforcement to the "gang element" of crime will see many leaders and members of street gangs entering the prison system.

The difference between gang member and non-gang members in accumulating disciplinary reports (DRs) in prison demonstrates the STG members' capacity for violence. For FY 97-98 and for a second year in a row, the Disciplinary Report (DR) rate per 1000 gang members (1,952) is more than twice the rate of non-gang-members (878). The total number of gang-related DRs (1128) for FY 97-98 is almost 50 percent larger than the total gang member DRs (581) for FY 96-97. As gang-member identification efforts improve, these numbers are sure to rise.7

To meet this emerging threat, the department formed the Security Threat Group Intelligence Unit (STGIU) to combat gang activity by gathering intelligence on threat groups and gangs and their members. This intelligence is compiled into a comprehensive database. The STGIU uses this intelligence to develop correctional management strategies and assist fellow criminal justice agencies.

The next challenge is the retention of a professional correctional staff. Institutional security is assured through well trained, highly motivated, qualified correctional officers doing an inherently dangerous and demanding job. The correctional officer (CO) career field is suffering from a lack of qualified individuals. An inequitable salary structure is compounding the problem. This results in vacancies that affect an institution's ability to fill its security posts, thereby increasing the threat to public safety. This CO staff shortage is most acute in South Florida.

After a steady decline over several years, the correctional officer turnover rates (officers leaving employment) started to rise again in 1993. Insufficient numbers of correctional officers adversely affects the critical complement. Critical complement is the absolute minimum number required for on-duty officers assigned security posts at an institution. The retention and recruitment of competent correctional officers is a recurring departmental challenge. Of the 12,045 entry level correctional officer positions, an average of 11 percent (1325) regularly go unfilled. The impact of this is each of our 60 major institutions supervise their respective inmate populations with 22 less correctional officers than their staff pattern provides-a serious safety and security shortage.

A disparity in salaries between correctional officers and law enforcement officers appears to be the primary reason for the department's CO shortage. In a 1997 University of Florida, Bureau of Economic and Business Research survey, 53.8 percent of general public, 58.3 percent news media respondents said entry level correctional officers and police officers should make the same salary. However, correctional officers make $4,072 less than the average entry-level police officer.8 Here are the turnover rates for correctional officers:

Correctional Officer Turnover
Correctional Officer 1995 1996 1997
New Hires Turnover Rate New Hires Turnover Rate New Hires Turnover Rate
4227 42.5% 3296 32.3% 3185 28.7%

Through October 31, 1998, the estimated CO turnover rate is 21.3 percent. Although there is a downward trend in turnovers, this figure is still too high and it adversely impacts institutional security and safety.

Automation of the inmate Risk and Needs system is critical to the effective assessment of an inmate's security risk potential. The department's Risk and Needs System for inmates uses objective assessments like education, substance abuse, etc., to determine the inmate's programs needs. Comparing these need assessments to the inmate's risk factors results in a prioritized list of recommended placement decisions (housing/programs/work). Security staff uses the "housing" factor as a guide in making assignments.

Implementation of all facets of the Automated Classification Management and Evaluation System (ACMES) will result in classification management effectively and efficiently improving institutional security and safety.

The 1996 Florida Legislature authorized the creation of a direct support organization (DSO) for the department to assist with inmate programs and employees in the interest of public safety.

  • Foundation for Partnerships in Correctional Excellence is the DSO for the department. Two of many actions taken by the foundation that directly affect staff safety are the funds it provides for emergency family assistance and the purchase of inmate wellness equipment.


Objectives and Strategies

Objective 1-1.1:

Continuously reduce the fiscal year escape rate from major institutions rate of 1.3 per 1,000 (FY 93-94) to zero by July 2000.

Projection Table
Jul-00 Jul-01 Jul-02 Jul-03 Jul-04
0 0 0 0 0

Strategies:

  1. Pursue physical security innovations for institutions. Lead Unit: Security and Institutional Management
  2. Ensure adequate inmate beds are available to incarcerate the population of each custody level and prevent overcrowding. Lead Unit: Administration
  3. Maintain, repair, or renovate departmental facilities to ensure institutional security, staff safety, and protection of the state's environment. Lead Unit: Administration
  4. Using the Automated Classification Management & Evaluation System, (ACMES), improve classification strategies that quickly and accurately identify inmates with the potential to precipitate/participate who have exhibited a potential for escape. Lead Unit: Security and Institutional Management; Support Units: Executive Services and Inspector General
  5. Enhance the integrated security audit/management review system. Lead Unit: Security and Institutional Management; Support Units: Inspector General & Community Corrections
  6. Implement an automated security staff utilization system. Lead Unit: Executive Services; Support Units: Security and Institutional Management, Community Corrections
  7. Implement an offender check-in and checkout system where appropriate. Lead Unit: Security and Institutional Management
  8. Implement a system to monitor electronically inmate movement and location in the secure compound. Lead Unit: Security and Institutional Management
  9. Decrease the turnover rate of the correctional officer series. Lead Unit: Executive Services
  10. Establish partnerships with other criminal justice agencies that focus on deterring escapes. Lead Unit: Security and Institutional Management

Objective 1-1.2:

Reduce the inmate-on-staff batteries from 18.7 per 1,000 (FY 94-95) inmates to 13.0 per 1,000 by July 2004.

Projection Table
Jul-00 Jul-01 Jul-02 Jul-03 Jul-04
17.6 16.5 15.4 14.3 13.0

Objective 1-1.3:

Inmate-on-inmate batteries will be at or below the baseline rate of 29.2 per 1,000 (FY 94-95) inmates by July 2003.

Projection Table
Jul-00 Jul-01 Jul-02 Jul-03
29.2 29.2 29.2 29.2

Strategies:

  1. Ensure adequate inmate beds are available to incarcerate the population of each custody level and to prevent overcrowding. Lead Unit: Administration
  2. Maintain or renovate departmental facilities to ensure institutional security, staff safety, and protection of the state's environment. Lead Unit: Administration
  3. Using the Automated Classification Management & Evaluation System (ACMES), improve classification strategies that quickly and accurately identify inmates with the potential to precipitate/participate in criminal conduct. Lead Unit: Security and Institutional Management; Support Units: Executive Services and Inspector General
  4. Develop an Inmate Disruption Index that quantifies/predicts the identification of potential disruptive inmates. Lead Unit: Security and Institutional Management; Support Unit: Executive Services
  5. Enhance contraband reduction initiatives. Lead Unit: Inspector General; Support Units: Security and Institutional Management; Community Corrections
  6. Implement computerized inmate visitor tracking system. Lead Unit: Security and Institutional Management; Support Unit: Executive Services
  7. Ensure violent or disruptive inmates are appropriately housed. Lead Unit: Security and Institutional Management
  8. Decrease the turnover rate of the correctional officer series. Lead Unit: Executive Services