Gov. DeSantis’ budget pushes for shorter prison guard shifts
Ron DeSantis. Image via AP.

DeSantis 2
The Freedom First budget includes a recommendation to implement 8.5 hour shifts at all correctional institutions.

In an effort to help ease a staffing crisis in Florida prisons, Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ proposed budget recommends cutting work shifts to 8.5 hours at all correctional institutions.

Some guards have had to work up to 16-hour shifts because of staffing shortages, a Florida Department of Corrections official told lawmakers earlier this year.

Speaking to the House Criminal Justice & Public Safety Subcommittee in September, Deputy Secretary Ricky Dixon urged action.

“We just don’t have another Session to get this right from all the statistics we’re looking at,” he said.

On Thursday, Dixon hailed the Governor’s proposal.

“I want to thank Governor DeSantis for his recognition and prioritization of the officers across Florida who selflessly and honorably serve as corrections professionals. The Governor’s recommendations address our biggest challenge and looks to the future as we determine the path for Florida’s corrections system,” Dixon said. “The budget recommendation also takes a historic step to reinvest in the education, substance use treatment and wellbeing of the incarcerated with the goal to restore lives and create a pathway for returning to their community as productive contributing citizens.”

DeSantis’ budget also includes $124 million to boost starting wages to $20 an hour from the current $16.

Hopes are these moves will fill staffing gaps. Of 18,000 positions in the Department of Corrections, 5,000 were vacant in September.

The DeSantis proposal spreads new money throughout the system, with $5 million earmarked for a modernization plan, $27.5 million for the Inmate Welfare Trust Fund, $2.3 million for Community Corrections Statewide Firearms Transition, and $15.1 million for Offender Based Information System (OBIS) modernization.

But success is contingent on staff retention. And the Governor’s bet seems to be that more money to staffers means there will be fewer holes in the workforce.

“Governor DeSantis recognizes the challenges of long, sometimes unpredictable work hours for correctional officers and strongly supports FDC’s complete transition to 8.5-hour shifts at all state correctional institutions. Following the recommendation of national experts, shorter shifts will reduce staff attrition, use of force incidents, contraband and violent incidents. It will also support better work-life balance for officers,” asserted an email from the Department of Corrections, which supports the proposal.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


4 comments

  • Alex

    December 9, 2021 at 1:02 pm

    Why won’t guards work in our prisons?

    Because it’s high risk of getting covid, and our genius Governor won’t mandate vaccinations.

    Another “freedom” failure.

    • Impeach Biden

      December 9, 2021 at 1:27 pm

      Probably because the pay is low and working conditions not ideal. Funny how no one has a problem going to the store, restaurant, flying on airplanes etc without a vaccine mandate. But do continue on living in your demented world.

    • Charley mcbride

      December 20, 2021 at 1:09 pm

      Fuck the vaccines. Get one if you want. It doesn’t stop the covid only reduces symptoms, believe the lie…

  • Not worth it

    December 10, 2021 at 5:27 am

    For some of us who work for DOC
    The pay raise will be nice but still not worth working there. 8.5 hour shifts suck! If you have to close work camps, close other prisons, and can’t see the reason behind it… I think it’s time for you to wake up!! Maybe let us people vote whether we want 12 or 8.5 hour shifts. Let us decide since your not the one doing the job! Some of us have families with small kids who are wondering why mom or dad isn’t home yet. It’s because we dedicate our lives to and underpaid job because we can’t refuse to stay without getting punished for it! If it sits well with y’all to just keep hiring new people and losing them before a year, if it sits well with you to have to close prisons down because of staff shortage, if it sits well with you that we barely have a weapon on us in a locked gates facility and get paid (soon to be “20” dollars) an hour… than sir keep doing what your doing. I promise that you will have bigger issues when nobody wants to ever apply for DOC or show up for work!

Comments are closed.


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