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

Florida Department of Corrections
Michael D. Crews, Secretary

Security and Institutional Management

Inmates at Work

Sign that says "State Prisoners Working"

Eighty-three percent of the inmates in DC institutions and facilities in Florida on the last day of the fiscal year (June 30, 1997) worked, participated in programs such as vocational or academic classes, or a combination of work and programs. The remaining 17 percent were either physically unable to work, were going through the reception and orientation process or were in some type of confinement for management purposes, including death row. Inmate labor is used to construct new correctional facilities, and support and maintain the ongoing operation of correctional institutions. Inmates also cook, help maintain prison grounds, farm and garden, participate in sanitation and recycling processes, and work for PRIDE (Prison Rehabilitative Industries and Diversified Enterprises) and PIE (Prison Industry Enhancement) programs. Additionally, inmates are assigned to the department's Community Work Squad program, which is described in more detail below, along with some of the other types of work Florida prison inmates participated in during FY 96-97, and how much it saved Florida taxpayers.

Community Work Squad Program

There are two types of Community Work Squads: those that work under an agreement with the Department of Transportation (DOT) and those who work under a local agreement between correctional institutions and other state agencies such as the Division of Forestry, cities, counties, municipalities and non-profit corporations. The latter are called Public Works/Interagency Community Service Work Squads.

The DOT Inmate Work Squads, working under the supervision of staff from both the DC and DOT, performed more than 1.9 million hours of work valued at $12.9 million in FY 96-97. These squads performed all types of roadway and right-of-way work to help maintain the state's highway system. They also assisted the DOT following natural disasters such as hurricanes and severe storms that created extensive damage to several areas in the state.

The Public Works/Interagency Community Service Work Squads are authorized by F.S. 946.40. During FY 96-97, these inmate work squads performed over 3.5 million hours of free labor at a value of $29.9 million dollars (valued at $8.31 per hour*). The types of work performed by these squads include roadway and right-of-way work for cities and counties, grounds and building maintenance, mowing, litter removal, painting, construction projects, structure repair, office moving and cleaning up our state forests. These work squads also assisted both state and local governments in cleaning up after natural disasters.

The total value added/cost savings generated by the Community Work Squad Program for FY 96-97 was $42.8 million. Total program costs were $19.3 million, resulting in net value added/cost savings to Florida taxpayers in the amount of $23.5 million.

Picture of inmates construction a bench.

New Construction, Renovation and Repair

Inmates spent more than 3.5 million hours performing work in new construction, correction of fire safety deficiencies, and repairs and renovations during FY 96-97. Major construction projects were conducted at 25 major institutions and almost every other institution had some construction occurring. The value of this labor is estimated at $30.9 million based on a benefited hourly wage valued at $8.71 per hour.*

*The base hourly value is determined from the Wage Summary Report for Employment Services Job Openings for FY 96-97, prepared by the Department of Labor and Employment Security, with benefits for social security, retirement, health and basic life insurance added.)

The "N" Team

The "N" (Neighborhood) Team is a group of inmates from the St. Petersburg Community Correctional Center who have joined forces with the city of St. Petersburg to assist homeowners and neighborhoods with bringing their properties into compliance with coding standards. Referrals are received from the code compliance investigators who have cited the homeowners for violations, but are aware that they can not make the repairs due to income, age or disability. The team not only repairs neglected homes, but is also available for immediate action in the neighborhoods to perform projects such as neighborhood cleanup, alley and vacant lot cleanup, and assisting police with emergency board-ups.

Picture of an inmate gardening.

Farm and Gardening Programs

During FY 96-97, 66 facilities participated in the farming and gardening program. This program involves the cultivation of approximately 436 acres. Inmates prepare the soil, plant seeds, hoe weeds and harvest and process the vegetables. This year, inmates produced about 3.4 million pounds of vegetables and worked over 534,000 hours in the program.

Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles

Community Work Squads throughout the state are being used to perform services for the Division of Driver Licenses offices and Florida Highway Patrol stations. The services performed include ground maintenance and general maintenance such as painting, carpentry and roofing. About 49 Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles facilities received services in FY 96-97.

Farm Share

Farm Share is a non-profit organization dedicated to feeding the needy. This organization recovers fresh vegetables and fruits that would otherwise be discarded. They collect, process, store and distribute produce on a daily basis. Inmates from Dade CI assigned to this project assist with cleaning, sorting, packing and distributing the goods.

Aquaculture Program

The department has established an aquaculture program at Hendry CI to raise and harvest freshwater fish for consumption by inmates. Additionally, the inmates assist with maintaining the aquaculture equipment. Inmates harvested 1,553 pounds of catfish and 4,289 pounds of tilapia this fiscal year with a value of $13,518.

Non-Native Tree Eradication Project

Picture of a bloodhound.
Dogged Trackers -- The Department of Corrections raises bloodhounds at many facilities. These dogs are trained to track escaped inmates, and the DC routinely volunteers their services to assist local law enforcement agencies in tracking criminals, lost children, etc.

The department has established a partnership with South Florida Water Management District and Florida Gulf Coast University to provide inmate labor to assist with the removal of melaleuca trees. Melaleuca, a hardwood species native to Australia, has become established as an invasive pest in wetland areas of South Florida. This non-native plant threatens natural ecosystems by overrunning and crowding out native plants. Inmates from Everglades CI are assisting with the removal of melaleuca, Brazilian pepper and Australian pine along the canal banks and rights-of-way in South Florida. The work squad from Fort Myers Community Correctional Center cut and remove the exotic plants from the university's property. The department is currently pursuing an agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to expand this project to some areas around Lake Okeechobee.

Building Dog Kennels

The DC has entered into a Prison Industry Enhancement (PIE) program with PRIDE to use inmate labor to assemble dog kennel kits, which will be sold in retail outlets. The wages received by inmates will be used primarily to pay subsistence fees, the state's Crime Compensation Trust Fund, court-ordered fines and costs, and for family support.