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

Florida Department of Corrections
Michael D. Crews, Secretary

Goal 2-2: Prepare inmates to reintegrate to the community successfully.


Note: Legislative Budget Request 7, Continue Current Other Personal Services Activities, Continue Education Programs and Libraries, supports this goal.

Trends And Conditions Analysis (TCA)

The majority of the more than 66,000 inmates in Florida's correctional system enters with a history of substance abuse (75% to 85%) and is in need of treatment. In addition, the majority lack basic educational and life skills, have no vocational or job related training, and have poor communication skills. Compounding this problem, we know that approximately 95 percent of the inmate population return to our communities. The major correctional issues of public safety and improving inmate and offender's abilities to become productive members of society demand that we address adult literacy, education, and job skills training. The education, vocational, and special programs developed and implemented by the department focus on contributing to recidivism reduction through maximizing inmate's functional skills to aid in their societal and institutional adjustment.

Substance Abuse Treatment
According to a 1997 study conducted by the University of Florida, over 90 percent of the Florida residents surveyed believe that offenders should receive educational services and substance abuse treatment.5 The public demands the prison system keep violent criminals behind bars longer and prepare those who are released to become productive, self-reliant, and contributing members of the community.

The negative effects of drugs and alcohol on our society are a growing national problem. Often addicts commit crimes to support their habit or commit crimes while using drugs. Providing treatment to inmates contributes to reducing criminal behavior upon release. The department is mandated to assess inmates for placement into substance abuse programs. Program participation is voluntary; however, department operating policies encourage full program enrollment. This is accomplished in part, by policies that limit the earnings of gain time and access to work release for inmates who refuse treatment participation after an appropriate needs assessment has been completed.

Several studies indicate positive outcomes for inmates who participate in substance abuse treatment and education programs during their incarceration. Positive outcomes may include improved inmate adjustment during incarceration, often resulting in fewer rule infractions by participants which, in turn, provides a cost savings to the department. Upon release, inmates who have successfully participated in treatment programs show measurable decreases in recommitment and increases in employment.6

Academic and Special Education
Under the provisions of Section 944.801, Florida Statues, inmate literacy is a high priority. Inmates with two years or more remaining on their sentence (and not serving life sentences) and who lack basic 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.3 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. These labs are designed to decrease the time inmates generally take to raise their literacy levels.

Special Education Services for Florida's inmates began in 1990-91. Since that time, the number of inmates receiving these services has increased dramatically. This chart shows the increasing number of inmates served during the past seven years.7

Inmates Receiving Special Education

Link to Chart which shows a large increase in the number of inmates receiving special education from 1990 to 1998.  The numbers grew from 4 in 1990 to 3071 in 1998.
Chart 2-2. Click for larger view.

Vocational and Job Placement
Vocational education programs are reviewed and updated continuously for labor market demand. New vocational programs offered reflect the latest labor market information that indicates employment opportunities available through the year 2005. 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. Section 944.801, Florida Statutes mandates that job skills training, via vocational education programs, be available for inmate participation during their period of incarceration. The department currently delivers 165 programs in 44 correctional institutions or facilities.

Job placement programs consist of classes in employability skills, decision making, problem solving, and community re-entry strategies. Obtaining employment is a major factor determining whether an ex-offender will return to crime. Statistics have proven that an ex-offender who obtains employment is three times more likely to stay out of prison than one who remains unemployed. Offender job placement and post-release assistance through Project Reconnect, a job placement program, is assisting all eligible inmates requesting the services. Community partnerships assist the department in meeting the needs of inmates by providing resources, services, job training and placement opportunities.

The department's wellness education program is designed to help inmates implement positive lifestyle habits both during incarceration and upon release. Program curriculum provides inmates with necessary information and skills development to make better choices in the areas of nutrition, self-development and physical health. Anger management, problem solving, goals setting, communication skills, and personal responsibility represent fundamental self-development program areas that are emphasized.

Citizen Volunteer Programs
There is a need to standardize our efforts to recruit, train, and retain qualified citizen volunteers to assist in the delivery of programs that help offenders become productive, educated, self-sufficient, and law-abiding individuals.

Three important initiatives to address directly affect this issue of recruiting, training, and retaining volunteers are:

  • The DC Americorps*VISTA Project was established July 1, 1996. This partnership with the Corporation for National Service (CNS) now provides for 20 full-time VISTA members to serve as volunteer recruitment coordinators within the correctional system.
  • A new position coordinates the development and implementation of a standardized program of orientation and training of volunteers and student interns.
  • The department established The Student Volunteer/Intern Partnership Program with all community colleges and universities in Florida. As part of their course credit work, student volunteers and interns assist officers and other correctional staff in the delivery of programs and services to the offender population.

Security is a primary influence on how the department addresses volunteers. All volunteers and interns undergo a thorough background check and must successfully complete the orientation and training classes.

Another issue, the existing budget constraints regarding the delivery of programs and services to inmates and offenders, is partially alleviated by the use of volunteers and interns in correctional institutions, probation and parole offices, and community correctional centers. The recent revitalization of interest in volunteerism on the part of universities and communities is aiding the recruitment of volunteers. The department, by providing a formal partnership program for training and managing student volunteers and interns, can increase the participation of these schools. This involvement enriches their students by the educational work experiences and activities at all correctional facilities throughout the state

The public's benefit realized through volunteer programs will be in the tax dollar savings by the return of a more productive, law-abiding citizen to the community. The use of volunteers represents a tremendous cost-avoidance to the operational budget of the department and the State of Florida.

Faith-Based Programs
The Legislature has found that faith-based programs offered in correctional institutions and facilities have the potential to facilitate inmate institutional adjustment, help inmates assume personal responsibility, and reduce recidivism.8 Research has shown that inmates who voluntarily participate in faith-based programs have a much lower disciplinary report rate during incarceration and a lower rate of recidivism upon release. Currently, the department has developed a residential faith-based model, The Prodigal Project. Outcome measures of the project will document inmates who complete a program and not recommitted to prison within 24 months of release.

Corrections Distance Learning Network (CDLN)
A key innovation in correctional education is the Florida Corrections Distance Learning Network (CDLN), consisting of 43 satellite downlink sites and 9 multi-point video conferencing systems. The network meets two critical needs of the department:

  • Efficient and cost-effective educational services for offenders both incarcerated and supervised.
  • Centralized support for staff development and training.

The primary purpose of the network is to provide an effective and efficient means to complement institutional inmate education programs. Distance learning programming is developed to address adult literacy, academic education, vocational training, and life management skills. In using the latest technology to meet the educational needs of Florida's inmate population, the department has become a national leader in technology-based prison education systems.

Library Services
The department's Library Services program manages the delivery of general library and law library services at correctional institutions and facilities. Law libraries provide inmates with access to 69 law library collections, trained inmate law clerks, and related legal services, in accordance with Bounds v. Smith (1977) and Lewis v. Casey (1996).

Direct Support Organization
The Foundation for Partnerships in Correctional Excellence is the department's direct support organization (DSO) that supports the programs, personnel and services of the department in the interest of public safety. Examples include employee emergency family assistance, support of literacy, wellness, faith-base and related programs, and public school partnerships. As a tax exempt 501(1)(3) non-profit corporation authorized by statute, the DSO provides resources through grants, contribution, and community partnerships.

The department is committed to implementing interventions within a correctional setting that enable inmates to rejoin society as contributing members at the least expense to Floridians.


Objectives and Strategies

Objective 2-2.1

Increase to a 85% combined success rate the inmates who complete a Tier II, Tier III, Tier IV, Tier V or Dual Diagnosis program and are not recommitted to prison or community supervision within 24 months of release from prison from the baseline rate of 82.4% (FY 94-95) by July 2004.

Projection Table
FY 99-00 FY 00-01 FY 01-02 FY 02-03 FY 03-04
82.9% 83.4% 84.0% 84.4% 85%

Objective 2-2.2

Increase to 61.6% the successful completions for inmates exiting a Tier II, Tier III, Tier IV, Tier V or Dual Diagnosis program from the baseline rate of 54.6% (FY 97-98) by June 2004.

Projection Table
FY 99-00 FY 00-01 FY 01-02 FY 02-03 FY 03-04
56.0% 57.4% 58.8% 59.2% 61.6%

Strategies:

  1. Provide substance abuse education and treatment. Lead Unit: Education and Job Training.
  2. Retrain key corrections and contract counseling staff and regional consultants at regular intervals. Lead Unit: Education and Job Training.
  3. Increase funding to existing contract vendors whom consistently meet specified performance objectives. Lead Unit: Education and Job Training.
  4. Expand Tier II through Tier V treatment programs. Lead Unit: Education and Job Training.
  5. Develop an aftercare program component. Lead Units: Education and Job Training and Community Corrections.

Objective 2-2.3

Increase to an 84.5% success rate the inmates who complete academic programs and are not recommitted within 24 months from the baseline rate of 82% (FY 1993-94) by June, 2004.

Projection Table
FY 99-00 FY 00-01 FY 01-02 FY 02-03 FY 03-04
82.5% 83.0% 83.5% 84.0% 84.5%

Strategies:

  1. Prioritize ranking for placement of inmates in programs. Lead Unit: Security and Institutional Management and Education and Job Training
  2. Improve inmate literacy and employability skills. Lead Unit: Education and Job Training
  3. Integrate distance-learning, multi-media and other technology into inmate programs and staff development. Lead Unit: Education and Job Training
  4. Provide transition programs for inmates released to the community. Lead Unit: Education and Job Training
  5. Provide library services to inmates. Lead Unit: Education and Job Training
  6. Provide inmates with legal research materials, law clerks, and legal support services. Lead Unit: Education and Job Training

Objective 2-2.4

Increase to 55% the success rate of inmates who complete Applied Technology/Vocational Education and are not recommitted within 24 months of release from the baseline rate of 35% (FY 97-98) by June 2004.

Note: Legislative Budget Request 6, Correctional Education Vocational Programs Enhancement, supports this objective.

Projection Table
FY 99-00 FY 00-01 FY 01-02 FY 02-03 FY 03-04
35.0% 40.0% 45.0% 50.0% 55.0%

Strategies:

  1. Increased utilization of programs with multiple Occupational Completion Points (OCP). Lead Unit: Education and Job Training
  2. Student Performance Standards will be reviewed for currency and requirements of the Department Of Education. Lead Unit: Education and Job Training
  3. Evaluate the program teaching equipment annually. Lead Unit: Education and Job Training
  4. Ensure inmates participating in vocational programs completed a formal vocational assessment before program enrollment. Lead Unit: Education and Job Training

Objective 2-2.5

50% of all eligible inmates receiving post release employment assistance through Project Reconnect will stay gainfully employed and not be recommitted within 24 months of release. Baseline rates are to be determined.

Projection Table
FY 99-00 FY 00-01 FY 01-02 FY 02-03 FY 03-04
25.0% 30.0% 35.0% 40.0% 50.0%

Strategies:

  1. Expand the number of institutions/facilities served. Lead Unit: Education and Job Training
  2. Refer inmate participants to job openings. Lead Unit: Education and Job Training
  3. Provide toll free hotline for participants to obtain employment assistance. Lead Unit: Education and Job Training
  4. Refer participants to pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs. Lead Unit: Education and Job Training
  5. Dedicate staff positions to establish partnerships and community linkages. Lead Unit: Education and Job Training

Objective 2-2.6

Increase to 45% the successful completions for inmates exiting the Wellness Education Class program from the baseline rate 31% (FY 96-97) by June 2004.

Projection Table
FY 99-00 FY 00-01 FY 01-02 FY 02-03 FY 03-04
33.0% 36.0% 39.0% 42.0% 45.0%

Strategies:

  1. Provide wellness education instruction to volunteer inmates. Lead Unit: Education and Job Training
  2. Improve instructional strategies and teaching methods. Lead Unit: Education and Job Training
  3. Provide adequate space for wellness classes. Lead Unit: Education and Job Training
  4. Continue the partnership with the University of Florida. Lead Unit: Education and Job Training
  5. Conduct individual and team wellness activities. Lead Unit: Education and Job Training
  6. Educate inmates in the area of wellness. Lead Unit: Education and Job Training

Objective 2-2.7

Increase the monthly average citizen volunteer service hours by 5% over the baseline of 20,000 hours (FY 95-96) by July 2000.

Projection Table
Dec 99 July 2000
249,372 (2.5%) 255,454 (5%)

Strategies:

  1. Expand use of citizen volunteers. Lead Unit: Security and Institutional Management; Support Units: Community Corrections
  2. Establish guidelines for expanded use of volunteers in major institutions, community facilities and probation/parole locations Lead Unit: Executive Services; Support Units: Security and Institutional Management, Community Corrections

Objective 2-2.8

Increase the inmates voluntarily participating in faith-based programs by 3% annually, for a maximum 15% increase above the baseline of 18.5% (FY 96/97) by June 2003.

Projection Table
99-00 00-01 01-02 02-03
12,758 13,119 13,480 13,841
6% 9% 12% 15%

Objective 2-2.9

Increase to a 90% success rate the inmates who complete the faith based Prodigal Project and are not recommitted within 24 months from the baseline % to be determined (FY 01-02). (Based on pilot test)

Projection Table
FY 01-02 FY 02-03
To be determined To be determined

Strategies:

  1. Provide opportunities for inmate participation in religious services. Lead Unit: Lead Unit: Security and Institutional Management
  2. Implement a holistic program that identifies causes of personal and relational problems. Lead Unit: Education and Job Training
  3. Develop partnerships with community ministry organizations. Lead Unit: Education and Job Training
  4. Conduct a pilot test of the faith based Prodigal Project curriculum in one institution in each region (5 total). Lead Unit: Education and Job Training