Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability
Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability

Department of Corrections

Security and Institutional Operations

What is the purpose of the program?

The Department of Corrections' Office of Institutions is responsible for the supervision of four institutional regions and operational management of all correctional facilities. Responsibilities include establishing and auditing security standards for all facilities, maintaining accreditation standards, conducting special operations, and tracking incident reports. The office must also maintain records on all inmates incarcerated, monitor and interpret court orders, and maintain the inmate transportation system. The office also conducts training programs on security issues, classification, records, sentence structure, and court orders, and establishes policy and direction for all classification and records functions from reception to release.

What services does the program include?

The Office of Institutions consists of the following areas:
  • Admissions and Release
  • Classification Management
  • Intelligence
  • Population Management
  • Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA)
  • Security Operations

How many offenders does the department have in custody?

As of March 2021, the department housed 79,685 inmates in its facilities and as of March 2021 was responsible for an additional 83,972 offenders on active community supervision. As of 2020 (the most current data available), in 2019 Florida had the third largest state prison population in the United States, behind Texas and California.

How many correctional officers are there?

As of March 2021, there were 18,134 authorized correctional officer positions in correctional institutions.

What are the minimum qualifications to become a correctional officer?

In order to become employed as a certified correctional officer in Florida, individuals must meet certain requirements, such as being at least 18 years of age, having earned a high school diploma or equivalent (GED), and not having been convicted of a felony or convicted of a misdemeanor involving perjury or false statement. Individuals must also successfully complete the Florida basic recruit training program for corrections. The training program covers topics including weapons, interpersonal communication skills, supervising in a correctional facility, emergency preparedness, and defensive tactics. After successfully completing the training program, candidates must achieve a passing score on the State Officer Certification Examination.

Additionally, correctional officers must successfully complete 40 hours, every four years, of in-service, advanced, specialized, or career development training courses. Mandatory retraining requirements for correctional officers include training in human diversity and use of force. Use-of-force training must include instruction in scenario-based firearms training, physiological response dynamics training, less lethal force options available within the agency, agency use of force policies, and legal aspects regarding use of force.

How often do escapes occur?

An escape is an unauthorized absence from a designated facility boundary or absence from any official assignment outside the boundary. The department classifies escapes into three categories.

Level I:  Escape from non-secure environment, such as a community correctional center or outside work squad, in which no Level 3 behaviors are exhibited.
Level II:  Escape from a secure perimeter or supervised environment, in which no Level 3 behaviors are exhibited.
Level III:  Escape that involves hostages, weapons/tools, outside assistance or violence during or after the escape.


The number of escapes decreased by 11.8% from 34 in Fiscal Year 2018-19 to 30 in Fiscal Year 2019-20. One (3.3%) of the 30 escapes was from a correctional institution. The escape from a correctional institution was an escape from a secure perimeter, during which an inmate used a homemade ladder to climb the perimeter fence undetected. Due to the use of the homemade ladder the escape was deemed a Level III escape. One (3.3%) of the 30 escapes was from a work camp/road prison, and was a Level II escape. The remaining 28 (93.3%) escapes were from work release/contract centers and all 28 were Level I escapes.

Of the 30 escapes, 28 (93.3%) were recaptured by July 7, 2020. Of the 28 recaptured, 22 (78.6%) were recaptured within the same quarter the escape occurred. Of the 22 recaptured within the quarter, 13 (59.1%) were recaptured within 24 hours of the escape.

How are custody classifications determined?

Inmates are placed in one of five custody grades: community, minimum, medium, close, or maximum. Department staff uses information from available sources, such as criminal history, prison disciplinary history, prison job ratings, escape history, program involvement, and time remaining to serve, to complete an automated custody classification questionnaire for each inmate. The result of the automated questionnaire is a computer-generated numerical score or status custody that reflects the degree of supervision appropriate for the inmate and determines the custody grade.

How are disruptive inmates managed?

Depending on the type and level of disruption, an inmate may be placed in one of three special status housing types:

Administrative Confinement - The temporary removal of an inmate from the general population in order to provide for security and safety until such time as more permanent inmate management processes can be concluded. The reason(s) an inmate can be placed in administrative confinement include pending disciplinary charges; pending outside charges; pending protection needs review, pending investigation for fear of staff allegations; pending investigation, evaluation of change of status, or a transfer is pending and the presence of the inmate in the general population might interfere with that investigation or present a danger to the inmate, or other inmates, or to the security and order of the institution; or received from another facility when classification staff is not available to review the inmate file and classify the inmate into general population.

Disciplinary Confinement - A form of punishment in which inmates found guilty by the disciplinary hearing team of committing violations of the department rules are confined for specified periods of time to individual cells based upon authorized penalties for prohibited conduct. Disciplinary confinement cells are physically separate from other special status housing and the general population. Inmates placed in disciplinary confinement may be subject to restrictions of privileges based upon the inmate's conduct and behavior becoming unmanageable. The department requires frequent review of inmates who are placed in disciplinary confinement, with the goal to return inmates to the open population as soon as the facts of the case indicate that this can be done safely.

Close Management - Confinement of an inmate apart from the general population, for reasons of security or the order and effective management of the institution, where the inmate, through his or her behavior, has demonstrated an inability to live in the general population without abusing the rights and privileges of others. Placement of an inmate on close management (CM) status is based on an inmate's behavior constituting a serious and immediate threat to the safety of others or to the security of the department, where this may be the primary or only appropriate placement. There are three individual levels associated with close management, with CMI being the most restrictive single cell housing level and CMIII being the least restrictive housing of the three CM levels. The initial referral for placement is recommended by the classification officer and the institutional classification team, which is then reviewed by the state classification officer for the final disposition. While in a close management unit, an inmate's movement within the institution and privileges will be limited depending on the specific CM level and their behavior. The department requires frequent reviews of inmates who are on close management status, with the purpose of reducing their status to the lowest management level or returning the inmate to general population as soon as the facts of the case indicate that this can be done safely. 

Are youthful offenders housed with adult offenders?

Inmates can be sentenced by the court or classified by the department as youthful offenders. Youthful offenders are not housed with adult offenders unless specific circumstances occur, including such things as management and discipline problems, the need for medical or other specialized treatment, or another felony conviction while incarcerated. The department is also authorized to assign inmates 19 or younger (except capital or life felons) to youthful offender facilities if they determine that the inmate's mental or physical vulnerability would jeopardize their safety in a non-youthful offender facility. As of March 2021, the department had 1,052 inmates classified as youthful offenders housed primarily in four correctional facilities.

How are these activities funded?

Fiscal Year: 2021-22
Fund Dollars Positions


Contraband In Specified Facilities. Chapter 2020-59, Laws of Floridaadds medical marijuana, hemp, industrial hemp, and vapor-generating electronic devices to the list of contraband that may not be introduced into or on the grounds of state correctional institutions, county detention facilities, juvenile detention facilities, juvenile commitment programs, and facilities operated by the Department of Children and Families (DCF), and the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD). The bill provides that it is a third degree felony to introduce this type of contraband onto the grounds of the aforementioned facilities with the exception of juvenile detention and commitment program grounds which would result in a second degree felony. This bill also provides vapor-generating electronic devices introduced onto any of the facilities listed would be a first degree misdemeanor offense. Cellular phones and portable communications devices brought onto the grounds of juvenile facilities or DCF and APD is a first degree misdemeanor offense. 

Age of Correctional Officers. The 2019 Legislature enacted Ch. 2019-113, Laws of Florida, to help address staff shortages in the Department of Corrections. Specifically, it decreases the minimum age requirement for full-time, part-time, or auxiliary correctional officers from 19 years of age to 18 years of age to expand the pool of eligible persons and be able to recruit high school seniors. Other states, including Georgia, Kansas, and Texas allow 18-year olds to be correctional officers.

Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA).  As part of the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), the department utilizes an integrated scaling and questionnaire system known as the Sexual Risk Indicator (SRI) to appropriately house inmates. The SRI provides for the continual periodic interview of inmates during their incarceration, utilizing a pre-determined set of questions to assess risk for sexual victimization and predation. Inmate responses combined with historical inmate data are weighted and factored into a calculation that results in one of five designations ranging from high victimization risk to high aggression risk used internally to help ensure that inmates with extreme opposite SRI characteristics are not housed together, thereby reducing the number of in-cell assaults.

The department reports that it has continued to enhance PREA efforts through modification of policies and procedures. In addition, video monitoring technology has been installed in all housing units to assist with the prevention, detection, and response to sexual victimization. Additionally, the department is taking steps to install video monitoring technology in education, program, work, and other common areas. The department also reports that it has been actively working with local rape crisis centers across the state to provide victim advocacy services to inmate victims of sexual abuse as required by the PREA standards. In 2019, the department changed their reporting process of allegations by sending all allegations to the Office of the Inspector General (OIG). The OIG will then determine whether or not the allegations meet the standard as defined in 28 C.F.R. Part 115.6 as opposed to the department doing so. As part of PREA, all institutions are required to undergo a Department of Justice-certified audit every three years. 

Where can I find related OPPAGA reports?

Florida Correctional Facilities, Report 19-08, October 2019
Contracted Study: An Examination of Florida's Prison Population Trends, Report 17-CRJ, May 2017

Where can I get more information?

Other Reports
The Auditor General reports on department operations are available on its website.
Statistics and Publications, Florida Department of Corrections.

Florida Prison Recidivism Report: Releases from 2008 to 2018, Florida Department of Corrections, June 2020.  

Websites of Interest
American Probation and Parole Association
American Correctional Association
The Corrections Connection
Correctional Peace Officers Foundation
Performance Information

Performance measures and standards for the department may be found in its Long Range Program Plan.

What are the applicable statutes?

Section 20.315, Florida Statutes.

Whom do I contact for help?

Department of Corrections, 850-488-5021