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.
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.
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.
|PROGRAM: EDUCATION AND PROGRAMS|
|ADULT OFFENDER TRANSITION, REHABILITATION AND SUPPORT||
|ADULT SUBSTANCE ABUSE PREVENTION, EVALUATION AND TREATMENT SERVICES||
|BASIC EDUCATION SKILLS||
|COMMUNITY SUBSTANCE ABUSE PREVENTION, EVALUATION, AND TREATMENT SERVICES||
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.
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
Department of Corrections, 850-488-5021