Florida National Guard to fill in the gaps for correction officer shortages state-wide
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCJB) -As the state continues to struggle with a shortage of correctional officers, a legislative panel has passed a plan that would activate Florida National Guard members to help at prisons. The Joint Legislative Budget Commission approved a proposal to free up $31.25 million that, at least in part, would be used to cover the costs of activating National Guard members.
Florida has long dealt with shortages of correctional officers and recently has taken steps such as increasing pay to help hire and keep officers. The shortages have resulted in officers working large amounts of overtime and supervising numerous inmates, according to Mark Talent with the Department of Corrections.
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Mark Talent, Chief Executive Officer of the Department of Corrections said, ”The Guard members will provide temporary relief to help support current staff and provide the department more time and resources to hire and train new staff.”
However, incoming Florida House Democratic Leader Fentrice Driskell feels the plan is neither safe nor responsible. She said the Department of Corrections has been underfunded for years.
”Why would we be trying to spread our National Guard so thin?” said Driskell. “So, it’s a Band-Aid. We know the infrastructure in our prisons is crumbling, and it’s just appalling that the governor would want to take this sort of tactic.”
The Joint Legislative Budget Commission, which is made up of House and Senate leaders, has the authority to make mid-year budget decisions. The prison proposal essentially allows the Department of Corrections to contract with the state Department of Military Affairs for the activation.
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