January 31, 2017
Governor Scott "Fighting for Florida's Future" Budget Fights to Ensure Continued Safety in Prisons and Communities
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The Florida Department of Corrections (FDC) today highlighted Governor Rick Scott "Fighting for Florida's Future" Budget, which recommends an additional $127 million, for a total of $2.5 billion, to the Department to provide mission critical resources and infrastructure to ensure the safety of FDC’s staff, inmates in our custody, offenders under Department supervision, and communities across the state.
Governor Rick Scott said, “The ‘Fighting for Florida’s Future’ Budget fully supports FDC and their mission to ensuring institutions are run safely and effectively while keeping Florida communities safe. Recruiting and retaining an experienced workforce is crucial to carrying out this mission and I am proud that this budget includes pay raises for the majority of Florida’s correctional and correctional probation officers. By making these important investments, we are investing in the safety of all Floridians for years to come.”
Secretary Julie Jones said, “Governor Scott has committed to ensuring the Department of Corrections can operate safely and has invested in our most critical resource ╪╕┬ô the dedicated officers in our state who execute our mission every day to provide supervision and service to those entrusted in our care. I am incredibly proud of the work we have done, and with Governor Scott’s historical support, we will continue to make meaningful strides to work with greater efficiency, provide improved education and treatment services to continue to reduce recidivism, and operate with transparency and accountability.”
Governor Scott’s “Fighting for Florida’s Future” Budget includes:
$46 Million for Correctional Officer and Correctional Probationer Officer Pay Plan ╪╕┬ô Governor Scott’s “Fighting for Florida’s Future” Budget proposes an investment into the Department’s most valuable resource, correctional officers and correctional probation officers. Adequate security of the state’s correctional institutions and facilities is critical to ensuring public safety. The Department is faced with unprecedented staff turnover caused in part by the Department’s inability to attract and retain a new workforce at current levels of compensation. Currently more than 46 percent of the FDC’s correctional officers and 76 percent of correctional probation officers have less than two years of experience impacting both the safety and security of other officers, as well as those under the Department’s custody and supervision. In addition to increased safety, the pay plan investment will result in a decrease in overtime and other costs related to turnover.
The pay plan addresses both recruitment and retention in a three-tier approach:
- An increase in the minimum salaries of the majority of correctional officers and correctional probation officers╪╕┬ô targeted to attract new hires and to retain existing officers;
- Hiring bonuses at institutions that continually exceed a vacancy rate of 10 percent or higher; and
- A 10 percent increase in base pay for correctional officers who work in the 10-inpatient mental health housing units ╪╕┬ô an area of high turnover, poor retention and increased stress. Officers will be eligible if they attain a Correctional Behavioral Health Certification, which enhances the safety of the officers and mentally ill inmates.
Matt Puckett, Executive Director of the Florida Police Benevolent Association said, “Florida’s hardworking correctional and probation officers ensure communities are safe by providing security and supervision of Florida’s offenders. I am encouraged by the pay proposals put forward in the Governor’s budget and the PBA is looking forward to backing pay increases for both current and incoming officers.”
$16.4 Million to Add 104 Positions at the Residential Mental Health Continuum of Care Program at the Wakulla Correctional Institution Annex - The Governor is proposing funding to create a Residential Mental Health Program at Wakulla CI. This unique treatment facility will address one of the state’s most vulnerable populations, the severally mentally ill. Individuals plagued with mental illness that do not have access to the appropriate services can cause a strain on Department resources and create a dangerous environment for staff and fellow inmates. By creating these protective housing and augmented treatment units which are designed for inmates with serious mental impairment, the Department will more safely and efficiently treat inmates with unique behavioral health needs and keep them from harming themselves and others. This funding will support the Department’s implementation of the Governor’s Executive Orders requiring the Department to focus on meaningful mental health care reforms.
“The Florida Council for Community Mental Health applauds Governor Scott for continuing to fund vital mental health priorities,” said Melanie Brown-Woofter, Interim President and CEO of the Florida Council for Community Mental Health.
$35 Million for Facility Maintenance and Repair ╪╕┬ô This year’s budget proposes $35 million for critical maintenance and repair needs in FDC’s facilities. Following the success of last year’s repairs, the funding will allow the Department to continue addressing necessary maintenance needs to maintain safe, secure facilities and ensure long-term energy and maintenance savings. FDC maintains the largest facility portfolio in the state, with more than 4,000 buildings totaling more than 20 million square feet. The “Fighting for Florida’s Future” Budget recommends funding for the Department’s fixed capital outlay priorities, including the repair or replacement of 80 roofs, nine outdated perimeter systems and fences, and environmental needs such as waste water treatment and sewer repairs.
Dominic Calabro, President and CEO of Florida TaxWatch said, “Florida TaxWatch strongly commends Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Department of Corrections in their effort to provide both current and incoming officers with pay increases, which we believe will lead to cost savings in turnover and overtime. We additionally applaud the Governor’s commitment to efficient facility management that will save taxpayers money and protect the businesses of Florida.”
$4.2 Million for Vehicles ╪╕┬ô The Governor’s proposed budget recommends $4.2 million to replace critically needed vehicles used for perimeter security and to transport inmates. More than half of the current fleet is eligible for disposal. The recommended funding provides 108 diesel utility vehicles for perimeter security monitoring, and 35 vans and 10 buses for inmate transport.
As Florida's largest state agency, the Department of Corrections employs 24,000 members statewide, incarcerates approximately 96,000 inmates and supervises nearly 166,000 offenders in the community.