Gov. DeSantis cuts $2 million prison improvement master plan

The plan would have laid a path forward to bring facilities into the 21st century.

One of the many fatalities of this year’s historic budget vetoes is $2 million intended to develop a master plan to modernize the state’s correctional infrastructure.

The project was a priority for Sen. Jeff Brandes, who says deteriorating correctional facilities across Florida are “barely habitable” for the state’s 90,000 inmates. The St. Petersburg Republican earned a win out in this Session’s budget conferences after House members acceded to the Senate’s proposal.

Lawmakers sought a formal vision to upgrade the state’s aging facilities with practical improvements like air conditioning and even going as far as to relocate prisons to more populated areas to draw from a broader talent pool of officers and staff.

“These problems aren’t going to go away, they’re only going to get worse over time,” Brandes told Florida Politics.

A private contractor was to return a multi-year master plan to the Department of Corrections (DOC) by June 30, 2021, that would have included a prioritized list of physical and staffing needs.

Brandes called the current maintenance allocations “fingers in the dike” of issues. The oldest of the state’s correctional facilities is more than 100 years old.

The funding would have come from the Privately Operated Institutions Inmate Welfare Trust Fund.

While DOC lost on that opportunity, it did secure correctional officer pay raises through a retention plan based on years of service. Officers with less than two years of experience would get a raise of $500 while those with two to five five years would get a $1,500 bump and officers with five or more years would see a $2,500 increase.

DeSantis also retained $17.3 million for a pilot program to transition officers from 12-hour shifts to 8.5-hour shifts as requested by DOC Secretary Mark Inch. Lawmakers agreed to reduce the length of a quarter of correctional officers’ shifts during the trial run.

The Governor also cut $28 million in reserves for hepatitis C treatment DOC argues is unnecessary in its legal battle over treating asymptomatic inmates with the infectious virus.

Brandes says he’ll try again next year to get the master plan approved.

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


  • Patricia

    June 30, 2020 at 12:40 am

    No sentencing reform for 2020.
    No major criminal justice reform for 2020.
    No prison reform for 2020.
    No clemency’s in 2020…
    $2 million cut from budget for prison improvements in 2020….meaning no ac for relocation of facilities for programs for 2020…
    However…we see more officer on inmate violence in 2020…we see more inmate deaths by officers not held accountable for their actions in 2020…
    2020 has been a pathetic year just like our Governor has portrayed himself to be…Hateful and pathetic…Vote him out in 2022!

  • Cheri

    June 30, 2020 at 7:47 am

    DeSantis is a piece of SHIT!!

  • Debbie Hoffman

    June 30, 2020 at 10:03 am

    Desantis is one of the worst govenors I have ever seen. And Mark Inch is just as bad. Do they realize its illegal to leave dogs in cars in the heat but not inmates. Inmates are treated worse than dogs.

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