January 28, 2015
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~Initiatives Focus on Health Programs, Increased Security, Critical Infrastructure Updates~
TALLAHASSEE– The Florida Department of Corrections today highlighted Governor Rick Scott’s proposed “KEEP FLORIDA WORKING” budget which recommends $51.2 million over the current year budget for investments in areas critical to the Department’s mission. The “KEEP FLORIDA WORKING” budget emphasizes expanding mental health programs, increasing security and providing critical updates and repairs to aging facilities.
Governor Rick Scott said, “Over the past four years we have worked to ensure our communities are safe for Florida families and visitors. Our crime rate is at a 43 year low and recidivism continues to decline. I am proud to make important investments in the Department of Corrections that will reform our prisons and make our facilities safer for correctional officers and inmates.”
“Governor Scott believes in reform, and the “KEEP FLORIDA WORKING” budget reflects it. The Governor’s commitment to funding the Department’s substance abuse and mental health services, infrastructure and security needs is key to ensuring the safety and security of correctional staff, inmates, and Florida communities,” said Secretary Julie Jones. “Today, thanks to the unyielding dedication and commitment of the thousands of hardworking employees of the Department of Corrections, Florida is experiencing an historic recidivism low of 26.3 percent, as well as a 43 year crime low. I am confident that through Governor Scott’s proposed budget, the Department of Corrections will continue to move forward, ensuring safety and security for all Floridians.”
The “KEEP FLORIDA WORKING” budget proposes:
$23 Million to Increase Security and Supervision
This year’s budget proposes $17.5 million to fill more than 300 vacant positions and includes $1 million to contract with local state colleges to conduct certification academies for the Department’s new and current officers. Filling these positions will provide the Department with the staff needed to provide excellent care, custody and security, as well as reduce officer and staff overtime.
“Florida’s correctional officers and staff provide an essential service to our state’s communities, ensuring safety and security for millions of Floridians,” said Mike Riley, Teamsters Statewide Coordinator. “The Teamsters would like to applaud Governor Scott for his vision and support in funding the staffing needs at Florida’s correctional institutions to improve the safety for officers, inmates and the public.”
To increase community safety and supervision, Governor Scott’s proposed budget provides $3.8 million to ensure all inmates in work release centers, and those offenders on court ordered monitoring, are placed on electronic monitoring. This funding will reduce the frequency of walk-aways and escapes from work release centers and community supervision. The Department places more than 3,700 inmates in 20 privately operated and 14 state operated work release centers.
The proposed budget also includes $1.7 million to purchase and install additional security cameras throughout facilities statewide. Additional cameras will enhance the Department’s safety and security efforts for staff and inmates.
$4.9 Million for Mental Health Programming
The Florida Department of Corrections releases more than 3,000 inmates in need of community mental health care each year. Governor Scott’s proposed 2015-2016 budget provides $2.5 million in funding for transitional reentry mental health services to be implemented under a four county pilot program. This program, made possible through the Department of Corrections, in partnership with the Florida Council on Mental Health, the Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Administration, and local law enforcement, will provide transitional services provided through existing mental health networks to more than 200 mentally ill released inmates. Services will include up to nine months of case management, treatment, therapy, medication management, and transitional and supportive housing. Providing these critical mental health services will reduce the likelihood of mentally ill individuals returning to prison and help integrate them into supportive communities.
The proposed budget also includes $2.4 million to continue and expand residential substance abuse and mental health treatment for offenders on community supervision.
“The Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association is proud to partner with the Department of Corrections in this pilot program and help provide critical services to our state’s mentally ill,” said Mark Fontaine, Executive Director of the Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association. “The Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association applauds Governor Scott for his commitment to proactive and substantial substance abuse and mental health treatment options for Floridians in need.”
“Funding programs that support the treatment, transition and reintegration of mentally ill Floridians into our communities is essential in reducing instances of recidivism and enhancing the opportunities available for the mentally ill,” said Mike Hansen, President and CEO of the Florida Council for Community Mental Health. “I applaud Governor Scott for his vision in providing additional financial resources in his recommended budget for the transitional reentry mental health services pilot program. This program is a critical step toward enhancing the future of mental health care services in Florida.”
$15 Million for Critical Maintenance and Repair
The Florida Department of Corrections has more than 140 facilities statewide. Ensuring that the Department’s facilities are properly maintained is critical to the safety and security of Florida’s communities. The proposed budget authorizes $15 million to make critical repairs to prison facilities. Included in this $15 million allocation is $2.7 million to construct a medical dorm at Union Correctional Institute. Regular repairs and maintenance on our facilities allows the Department to maintain a secure perimeter around all major institutions, keeping our staff, and Florida’s families, safe.
For more information, please visit http://www.keepfloridaworking.com/.
As Florida's largest state agency, the Department of Corrections employs more than 22,000 members statewide, incarcerates more than 100,000 inmates and supervises nearly 146,000 offenders in the community.