Doubts remain about a new state law that lowers the minimum age to be a state correctional officer.
Florida Police Benevolent Association Vice President Jim Baiardi, whose organization represents corrections officers, called the move “an act of desperation” to deal with the state prison system’s problems with vacant positions.
“The jury is out on it — only time will tell if it works,” Baiardi told The News Service of Florida on Wednesday. “But think about how desperate we go to have 18-year-olds (as officers) in prisons.”
Baiardi said hopes to see pay raises for correctional officers that would provide an incentive for people to fill the vacancies.
The new law (HB 7057) allows 18-year-olds to work in state prisons and county jails. Before July 1, the minimum age was 19.
The law was crafted and backed by the Florida Department of Corrections to expand the “base for correctional officers within the state prison system to help address growing staffing shortages.”
In signing the bill, DeSantis said the new law is “opening more doors to young women and men to begin an honorable public safety career in our state.”
Republished with permission of The News Service of Florida.