Responding to an independent audit that found Florida's prisons are so "chronically understaffed" that an emergency should be declared, a group of South Florida members of the union that represents state corrections officers called on Gov. Rick Scott and Florida lawmakers to take action.
FDOC Teamsters United said in a statement Friday that Florida's leaders have "the absolute responsibility to ensure our prisons are safely staffed for its officers, the inmates and the public," and the group says that can't happen if corrections officers aren't also paid adequately.
The audit - commissioned by the Florida Department of Corrections and conducted by the National Institute of Corrections - found that the lack of staff costs the state millions in overtime costs, encourages vacancies, falls below national standards and exposes Florida taxpayers to increased costs if a murder, riot or escape were to occur at any of the state prisons. More here.
While the DOC has hired 2,200 corrections officers in the past six months, the agency also lost 1,400, leaving a net gain of around 800, Corrections Secretary Julie Jones told legislative committees last week. Jones said the agency is often losing its officers to local law enforcement agencies.
The union group said the DOC needs to do more than just hire new officers, it needs to entice them to stay.