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

Department of Corrections

Inmate Programs

What is the purpose of the programs?

Inmate programs provide basic life skills, academic and vocational education, substance abuse treatment, and re-entry services to inmates transitioning from prison to the community. In addition, programs provide meaningful activities that help keep inmates constructively occupied and contribute to the safe and secure operation of facilities. Vocational and work release opportunities provide inmates with an avenue to learn and apply new skills while developing a work ethic necessary to succeed in the workforce. Programming provides skills which help to increase the inmate's probability of successfully reentering the community and reduce the likelihood they will return to prison. Reentry programming success equals fewer victims and safer communities. The department also provides chaplaincy services that provide worship services and religious education at every correctional institution.

How many inmates receive academic credentials while in prison?

During Fiscal Year 2019-20, 17,737  inmates participated in academic education programs and 5,856 participated in career and technical programs. As a result, 766 inmates earned general equivalency diplomas (GED), 2,367 inmates were awarded vocational certificates, and 2,572 inmates were awarded industry certificates while in the Florida prison system.

Additionally, the Second Chance Pell Program provides an opportunity for inmates to work towards associates degrees through a partnership between the Florida Gateway College and Ashland University. Pell Grants are federal need-based grants to low-income undergraduate and certain post-baccalaureate students to promote access to postsecondary education. The Second Chance Pell Pilot Program offers Pell Grant eligibility to inmates selected and supervised by FDC who are eligible for release within the next five years.  

During Fiscal Year 2018-19, the department’s partnership with Florida Gateway College resulted in the successful conferring of 26 Associate of Science degrees, 22 Associate of Arts degrees, 26 Water Quality Technician certifications, 25 Environmental Science Technology certifications, 26 Wastewater Treatment Plant Operations certifications, and 132 National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) industry-recognized credentials; one graduate earned both an A.A. and an A.S. degree. In May 2020, Florida Gateway College initiated the Bachelor of Applied Science (B.A.S.) in Water Resources Management program as an extension to the associate’s degree programs currently offered at Columbia Correctional Institution.

How many offenders participate in substance abuse treatment and how many are identified as needing substance abuse treatment?

In Fiscal Year 2019-20, 7,055 inmates participated in institutional-based substance use programs. The institutional-based programs are located in major prison institutions, work camps, reentry centers, and community release centers. Fifty-eight (58%) of the total inmate population are screened to be in need of substance use treatment services.

Can inmates work outside prison grounds?

Inmates are assigned to community work squads to perform services for state and local agencies and non-profit organizations. In Fiscal Year 2018-19, community work squads performed approximately 2.3 million hours of work valued at more than $43 million, which, after costs, provided Florida with a net cost savings of approximately $24.2 million dollars.

Some inmates also participate in community release. Community release is a community transition program that allows certain incarcerated inmates to work at paid employment in the community while continuing as inmates of the facility where they are housed during non-work hours. The department reports that participation in this program provides the inmate with the opportunity to acquire savings prior to release from incarceration; enhance employability skills prior to release; re-establish family ties within the community; and attend self-betterment programs.

Eligible inmates may also work outside prison grounds when assigned to Prison Rehabilitative Industries and Diversified Enterprises, Inc. (PRIDE), which is a state-authorized private not-for-profit inmate training company operating general manufacturing and services facilities in correctional institutions throughout Florida.

Do inmates get paid to work?

Some inmates receive compensation for working.  For example, inmates who operate staff, visiting park, and inmate canteens, along with staff barbers and staff shoe shiners may receive up to $50 in compensation monthly. Also, inmates in community work assignments may receive a stipend of up to $20 per month. There are approximately 777 inmates at any one time with these assignments. Inmates participating in Prison Rehabilitative Industries and Diversified Enterprises, Inc. (PRIDE), and Prison Industries Enhancement (PIE) are also paid for their work. Additionally, community release also allows incarcerated inmates to work at paid employment in the community while continuing as inmates of the facility where they are housed during non-work hours.

Does the department have faith-based programs?

Faith- and character-based residential programs are an effort to reduce recidivism and disciplinary infractions by offering programming that promotes pro-social behavior. It is directed at inmates who are motivated to change and is open to both male and female medium, minimum, close, and community custody level inmates. The program offers a variety of activities and classes that are both religious and secular. Inmates can choose among courses on life skills training, religious education, substance abuse recovery, family life training, mentoring, and academic or vocational subjects. Residential clustering is used to promote a sense of community and to create positive peer pressure. The faith and character residential program can be completed in 18 to 36 months.  The department had 34 faith-and character-based residential program locations with a total of 6,218 beds in Fiscal Year 2018-19. The department has 64 full-time, 63 OPS chaplain positions, and 4 regional chaplains in institutions throughout the state in addition to 3 full-time chaplaincy positions, 1 full-time Government Operations Consultant II, and 1 full-time Correctional Program Consultant position in the central office.

What is the religious diet program?

Some inmates have religious dietary obligations.  The department offers a religious diet that meets the dietary obligations of Judaism, Islam, and other faith groups. Inmates apply to participate in these programs through the institutional chaplain.  Currently, nearly 4% of the inmate population participates in the religious diet program.

What kind of pre-release transition programs do inmates receive?

General Release Needs. The department provides inmates transitioning from prison to the community with a variety of programs, referrals, resources, and assistance. All inmates are provided release orientation and a release plan. Release staff supply inmates with re-entry services and referrals based on their individually assessed release needs. The department provides a re-entry resource directory, which can provide individual referrals to each inmate to services such as housing and substance abuse treatment.

100-Hour Transition Program/Compass 100. Under s. 944.7065, Florida Statutes, the department is statutorily required to provide a 100-hour comprehensive transition course that covers job readiness and life management skills to all inmates prior to release.  During Fiscal Year 2019-20, 9,934 inmates released completed a course.

Mental Health Re-Entry Program. The department's Office of Health Services has assigned aftercare specialists at all institutions with inmates in need of psychiatric assistance. When the inmate's end of sentence date is within 180-days, the department initiates mental health re-entry planning. Eligible inmates that consent to aftercare planning receive a 30-day supply of their prescribed medication on the day of their release and an appointment with a community mental health provider. This initial intake appointment is scheduled within the first 30-days of their release to provide continuity of care for their mental health treatment and continued medication treatment. The Mental Health Re-Entry Program also assists with Supplemental Security Income (SSI)/Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) applications for inmates that have been diagnosed with psychotic disorders, intellectual disabilities, and other disabling symptoms as determined by qualified mental health professionals 45-days prior to their release.  There is also a designated individual from the Office of Health Services that works with the Bureau of Admission and Release to assist in re-entry planning for inmates with physical health conditions that require post-release follow-up.

What is the inmate recidivism rate?

According to the most recent rate for 2016, the department reported that 25.4% of the inmates who left Florida's prisons will return (or recidivate) within three years. Some factors that can influence an increase in an inmate's likelihood of recidivism include the number of prior prison commitments, the number of disciplinary reports while in prison, and if they receive supervision after release. Other factors such as increased education level and having a lower custody level upon release can lower the likelihood of recidivating.

How are these activities funded?

Fiscal Year: 2021-22
Fund Dollars Positions


Inmate Welfare Trust Funds.  Chapter 2020-97, Laws of Florida, establishes a State-Operated Institutions Inmate Welfare Trust Fund within the Department of Corrections. The department holds this trust for the benefit and welfare of inmates incarcerated in correctional facilities they operate. Among others, net proceeds from inmate canteens, vending machines, hobby shops, contracted telephone commissions and the confiscation and liquidation of any contraband found is deposited into the trust fund. The bill requires the funds to be used exclusively to provide for or operate specified programming needs including literacy, vocational and education programs among many other inmate programs. Chapter 2020-98, Laws of Florida, requires, through amending s. 945.215, Florida Statutes, that any proceeds or funds collected in a fiscal year above a $2.5 million dollar cap be deposited in the General Revenue Fund.

Administration of Justice. The 2019 Legislature enacted Ch. 2019-167, Laws of Florida, which includes several provisions affecting inmate programs.
        Authorizes the department to increase the number of transition assistance specialists, requires such specialists to inform inmates about relevant job credentialing or industry certifications, and expands the use of such credentialing.
        Requires the department to create a toll-free hotline for released inmates to obtain information about community-based reentry services.
        Expands the use of the needs-based risk assessment system to provide inmates and offenders with community-specific reentry service provider referrals.
        Requires the department to provide inmates with a comprehensive community reentry resource directory that includes specified information related to services and portals available in the county to which the inmate is to be released.
        Permits specified entities to apply with the department to be registered to provide inmate reentry services and requires the department to create a process for screening, approving, and registering such entities.
        Authorizes the department to contract with specified entities to assist veteran inmates in applying for veteran's benefits upon release.
        Authorizes the department to develop, within its existing resources, a Prison Entrepreneurship Program that includes education with specified curriculum and authorizing the department to train inmates to become firefighters.

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

Florida Prison Recidivism Report: Releases From 2008 to 2018, Florida Department of Corrections, June 2020.
Department of Corrections - Inmate Trust Accounts, Inmate Health Care Services Contracts, and Prior Audit Follow-Up - Operational Audit, Auditor General Report No. 2016-179, March 2016.
Department of Corrections - Canteen Operations and Prior Audit Follow-Up - Operational Audit, Auditor General Report No. 2015-087, January 2015.

Agency Annual Reports, Florida Department of Corrections.

Websites of Interest

Florida Department of Corrections Office of Programs and Reentry
American Correctional Association
American Probation and Parole Association
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?

Sections 20.315 (Organizational Structure), 944.705 (Release Orientation Program), 944.706 (Basic Release Assistance), 944.707 (Post-Release Special Services), 944.801 (Education for State Prisoners), and 944.803 (Faith- and Character-Based Programs), Florida Statutes; and Rule 33.501, Florida Administrative Code.

Whom do I contact for help?

Department of Corrections, 850-488-5021