February 22, 2013
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The February 15, 2013, article in the Tallahassee Democrat attempted to explain the current state of Department of Corrections’ budget and facility needs. Based on statements made in the article, there are clarifications and corrections that need to be made. The Democrat has omitted key facts related to how much the DOC has done to save money, avoid costs and make changes to improve the deficit. Some of those completed efforts include:
Other misconceptions and false statements in the Democrat’s article include but are not limited to:
Article: “As for privatization, Tallent said DOC counted on saving $11 million by privatizing 18 of its facilities across the state, but that was halted by a Leon County circuit judge. That deficit was continued into this fiscal year to the tune of another $14 million.”
Fact: The privatization was for only one portion of the state, nine facilities in South Florida, and had a carryover deficit of $11 million, not $14 million.
Article: “The Department was forced to contract work to temporarily replace 673 health services workers.”
Fact: With a workforce of more than 25,000 at any point and time, normal sums of employee transitions are occurring (retirement, promotions, transitions, etc). At no point have these transitions reached a figure of 600 personnel within any given period. Moreover, the Department has never experienced a drop in employees that warranted the immediate contracting of hundreds of personnel.
Article: “DOC’s $95 million shortfall could see $74 million in relief from Gov. Rick Scott’s proposed budget, which provides the Department a total of $2.2 billion and also includes the privatization of 14 re-entry centers around the state.”
Fact: This applies to Work Release Centers, not Re-Entry Centers. They are two, very different types of facilities. Work Release Centers allow selected inmates to work at paid employment in the community during the last months of their confinement. A Re-Entry Center is a secure facility that is provided for higher custody level inmates who are nearing release
As Florida's largest state agency, the Department of Corrections employs more than 25,000 members statewide, oversees more than 100,000 inmates and supervises nearly 120,000 offenders in the community.