Fighting to Keep Florida’s Future Generations Safe
The Fighting for Florida’s Future budget makes important investments to support Florida’s dedicated law enforcement officers. Thanks to the hard work of Florida’s law enforcement officers, the state’s crime rate is at a 45-year low and the number of juvenile arrests is the lowest it’s been in more than 40 years. But, more investments are needed to keep Florida’s future generations safe.
Just last year, Florida came under attack when a terrorist, inspired by ISIS and filled with hate, stormed into Pulse Nightclub and killed 49 innocent people. Floridians will never forget this tragic loss of innocent life and Governor Scott is absolutely committed to doing everything possible to support public safety and ensure that Florida’s law enforcement officers have the resources they need to curb senseless violence and crime in the Sunshine State.
Governor Scott also recognizes that evidence-based diversion and re-entry programs help to reduce recidivism. His emphasis on such programs has helped to reduce Florida’s recidivism rate to 25.2 percent which means that fewer offenders are committing new crimes and returning to prison. This reduction in recidivism translates into fewer crime victims, safer neighborhoods and helped to reduce Florida’s inmate population, which has decreased by more than 4,000 over the Governor’s term. This has saved taxpayers more than $73 million.
Pay Raises for Sworn State Law Enforcement Officers Florida has nearly 4,800 sworn state law enforcement officers who work around the clock to protect Florida's communities and make sure Florida is the safest place to live and raise a family. The Fighting for Florida’s Future budget seeks to reward these officers by providing $14.6 million to award a five percent pay raise. These sworn state law enforcement officers serve in 13 state agencies including the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Florida Department of Financial Services and State Attorney offices.
Strengthening Counterterrorism Operations The Fighting for Florida’s Future budget also provides $5.8 million to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) to hire 46 new employees dedicated to counterterrorism. This will better enable Florida to work hand-in-hand with local, state and federal intelligence agencies to establish a planned, deliberate and comprehensive effort in support of domestic security.
Enhancing Florida’s Crime Laboratories and Databases Governor Scott continues to support the state's crime laboratories. Last year, the Governor recommended $5.4 million for state crime labs to fund lab equipment, DNA database upgrades, crime scene vehicles, and a competitive pay adjustment for crime laboratory analysts that helped retain skilled and experienced personnel. The Fighting for Florida’s Future budget provides FDLE an additional $1.1 million and five positions for the state's crime laboratories which will allow the agency to more quickly process sexual assault kits.
FDLE is responsible for maintaining Florida’s sex offender database, which is used daily by the public and Florida’s law enforcement officers to register and track offenders. The current database is more than 20 years old and lacks many features needed by law enforcement to better protect Florida’s communities. The Fighting for Florida’s Future budget provides $1.9 million to FDLE, which will allow the agency to begin upgrading this database. The Fighting for Florida’s Future budget also provides more than $16 million to construct a new Operations Center in FDLE’s Pensacola Region. This funding not only invests in Florida’s crime laboratories, but also enhances FDLE’s ability to assist local law enforcement with their investigative and forensic needs.
Supporting Local Law Enforcement Governor Scott wants to ensure that local communities have the resources they need to respond to emerging crime trends. The Fighting for Florida’s Future budget provides $4 million to the Florida Violent Crime and Drug Control Council, which provides financial assistance to local law enforcement agencies. Of these funds, $2 million is provided for financial assistance to local law enforcement to conduct investigations related to heroin abuse.
Department of Corrections Reforms Last year, more than $65 million was invested in the Department of Corrections (FDC). This funding was used to ensure Florida prisons were safely staffed, vehicles were safe to operate, and that the state’s facilities were better maintained. Governor Scott's Fighting for Florida’s Future budget continues to support the reformation of Florida’s prison system and recommends nearly $127 million over the Department of Corrections’ current budget, an increase of more than five percent.
Pay Raises for Correctional and Correctional Probation Officers The Fighting for Florida’s Future budget invests more than $38 million to increase the salaries of the majority of Florida's correctional and correctional probation officers. The Fighting for Florida’s Future budget also provides $9 million to add 209 positions that will increase correctional officer staffing levels at facilities statewide. These critical investments will not only allow FDC to better recruit officers, but will ensure that the Department has an experienced workforce.
Improving Correctional Officer Recruitment The Fighting for Florida’s Future budget also provides nearly $5 million for FDC to offer a one-time $1,000 hiring bonus to Correctional Officers hired at institutions that have a sustained vacancy rate over ten percent. This will help address the department’s vacancy, staffing and hiring challenges and improve inmate and officer safety as well as reduce costly overtime.
Enhancing FDC Mental Health Units The Fighting for Florida’s Future budget invests $16 million to add 104 positions to better serve inmates with severe mental illness. These funds, which will be used to create a Residential Mental Health Unit (RMHU) at the Wakulla Correctional Institution, will ensure that inmates with mental health issues are provided prompt and effective treatment in a rehabilitative environment.
Additionally, $2.5 million is provided to increase a Correctional Officer's base pay when the officer is serving in a mental health unit. The pay increase will only apply to Correctional Officers who have obtained the Correctional Behavioral Health (CBH) Certification, which will enhance the officers’ skill sets in dealing with a difficult inmate population and improve the safety of staff and inmate interactions.
Expanding Workforce Education Programs The Fighting for Florida’s Future budget also provides $3 million for FDC to expand and operate new workforce education programs. Inmates that are employed after release are far less likely to recidivate, which increases public safety and lowers taxpayer costs. This investment will provide inmates with the skills that are necessary to obtain a job upon release.
Ensuring Safe Facilities and Vehicles The Fighting for Florida’s Future budget recommends $35 million to make critical repairs and renovations to correctional institutions. This investment in Florida’s infrastructure not only enhances the safety and security of Florida’s officers and inmates, but will also result in long-term energy and maintenance savings. The budget also provides $4.2 million to provide FDC with safe and reliable vehicles used to transport inmates in Florida’s communities.
Reducing Juvenile Delinquency Governor Scott is committed to continuing the dramatic reforms made at the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) which have culminated in the lowest juvenile arrest rate in more than 40 years.
The Fighting for Florida’s Future budget gives DJJ the resources it needs to continue to reduce juvenile delinquency. The budget provides $5.2 million to add an additional 60 beds in DJJ’s residential facilities, which will ensure that youth committed to these facilities are promptly placed and receiving services. The Fighting for Florida’s Future budget also provides $5.3 million to allow DJJ to improve staffing and evidence-based services in its residential facilities. These funds will serve to further reduce juvenile arrests.
Expanding Prevention and Workforce Education Programs for Youth Governor Scott understands that effective prevention and workforce education services strengthen families and turn around the lives of troubled youth. In recognition of these benefits, the Fighting for Florida’s Future budget invests $4.7 million to expand prevention programs, and $2.6 million to provide additional workforce education programs throughout the state.
The Fighting for Florida’s Future budget also provides $10.2 million to maintain and repair juvenile facilities statewide. This increases the safety of the youth in DJJ’s custody, and also protects Florida’s investment in its infrastructure.
At Risk Youth Programs and Prevention Services Governor Scott knows that investing in services for at-risk youth provides a positive return on investment by preventing future crime and deterring children from entering the juvenile justice system. The Fighting for Florida’s Future budget recommends more than $8 million to continue to expand evidence-based prevention and treatment programs for at-risk youth. These programs are part of the reason Florida has seen the lowest juvenile arrest rate in more than 40 years. The budget includes funding for the following programs:
About Face Program - Maintaining $1.25 million in funding to provide summer and after-school life preparation programs; Forward March Program - Maintaining $750,000 in funding to provide job readiness services at selected Florida armories for Work and Gain Economic Self-Sufficiency recipients and other qualifying young adults; and Youth Challenge Program - More than $5.6 million which includes an increase of more than $765,000 to support additional academic and technical course offerings and equipment for 16-18 year-olds who withdraw or are removed from school. Contracted Prevention Funding for DJJ - An additional $4.7 million for DJJ to contract with evidence-based prevention programs that will serve at-risk youth and prevent them from engaging in delinquency.
Protecting Florida’s Vulnerable Populations The Fighting for Florida’s Future budget provides an additional $1.5 million to the Department of Legal Affairs to provide services to human trafficking victims. Over the past two years, the Governor has invested more than $8 million to fight human trafficking, and to ensure survivors have the services they need.
Additional Security The Fighting for Florida’s Future budget recommends $10.1 million for additional security at state facilities. These funds will provide for a security assessment on state buildings, updated security infrastructure and security personnel to provide a safe environment for employees as well as visitors at state facilities.