|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.
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|
Work Camps and Road Prisons
Community Correctional Centers and Drug Treatment Centers
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:
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|
|Rate per 1,000 Inmates||5.6||7.2||8.1||11.3||11.7||10.8|
|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|
|FY 98-99||FY 99-00||FY 00-01||FY 01-02||FY 02-03|
| CJEC Prison
|FY 98-99||FY 99-00||FY 00-01||FY 01-02||FY 02-03|
|As Of June 30||1990||1991||1992||1993||1994||1995||1996||1997||1998|
| Violent Inmate
|Custody Level Trends|
|As of June 30||Minimum||Medium||Close|
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:
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|
|New Hires||Turnover Rate||New Hires||Turnover Rate||New Hires||Turnover Rate|
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.
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.
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.
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.