Gov.'s budget recs released for Fla. Dept. of Corrections
Retention incentives, the 8.5-hour shift program and staffing to support statutory changes are included
By Sarah Calams
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Governor Ron DeSantis released his budget recommendations for the Florida Department of Corrections last week.
According to a press release from the FDC, Gov. DeSantis' budget recommendations include:
- An 8.5-hour shift program: The department will continue its three-year program to convert all state correctional institutions to an 8.5-hour shift. This will mark the second year of the implementation.
- Retention incentives to improve staffing: This recommendation will address the department's high turnover rates. It will provide a $1,000 retention increase for COs reaching five years of service between Oct. 1, 2020 and Sept. 30, 2021. It will also provide the same $1,000 increase for employees reaching two years between the same time frame, and a $500 increase for new hires between the same time frame.
- Staffing to support statutory changes: The addition of inspector and HR staff positions, according to the press release, will aid in reducing "the average criminal and administrative investigation caseload." Five additional positions will be added to help with the increased workload due to recent legislative changes.
- Redesign of the Correctional Officer Basic Recruit Academy: Additional funding will allow the department to increase its training bandwidth and implement open-enrollment academies. In turn, new COs will be placed into an academy within two weeks of hire. This hopes to increase safety within correctional institutions and reduce officer attrition.
- Adding Security Threat Group sergeants: These positions, according to the FDC, will help better manage STG members, disrupt criminal networks, improve staffing and increase safety and security.
- The purchase of security enhancement equipment: Equipment includes perimeter cameras, netting systems for throw overs, metal detectors, radios, location tracking systems, intercoms for mental health units, cellphone detectors, drone detection systems, ID verification systems, warehouse X-ray inspection systems, perimeter motion lights, rapid ID for visitors, narcotics canines and grounds maintenance equipment.
"Governor DeSantis' budget recommendations continue to set us on a positive trajectory as we strategically work to improve our system," Secretary Mark Inch said. "His demonstrated support recognizes our needs and the critical public safety role we provide for Floridians. We look forward to working with the Legislature to continue progress on our near-term objectives."
Other recommendations include career and technical services education expansion, academic education expansion, healthcare contract monitoring, electronic medical record infrastructure, facility maintenance and repairs and replacement of critical transport vehicles.