Florida Department of Corrections

Florida Channel

A group of Florida senators unanimously passed a bill Monday that aims to make life easier for ex-inmates upon their release from prison.

Upon their release from prison, Altamonte Springs Republican Senator David Simmons says it’s difficult for many inmates to get an ID card.  And, he says making it easier would lower recidivism. Under his bill, Florida-born inmates can get an ID card as well as a copy of their birth certificate upon their release.

Palm Beach County Clerk and Comptroller's Office

Corrections, Law Enforcement and Clerks of Courts officials hopped between different legislative panels earlier this month, explaining to lawmakers how two inmates were able to walk free using forged release orders and how that practice might be stopped from happening in the future.

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New details about the October escapes of two inmates locked up at a Franklin County prison suggest investigators are dealing with an organized criminal operation and investigators say more arrests are imminent.

Officials from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Department of Corrections and Clerks of Court confirm the forged documents that convicts Joseph Jenkins and Charles Walker used to escape were manufactured within the prison’s walls. But, FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey explained that there’s no indication the inmates had help from corrections staff.

Flickr Creative Commons

Florida lawmakers on the Senate Criminal Justice Committee are preparing legislation to patch some of the holes in the state’s criminal justice system that led to the premature release of two Franklin County inmates. The Florida Department of Corrections, Law Enforcement and the Clerks of Court all agree – one of the major problems with the state’s prisoner release procedure is lack of uniformity.

The Florida Department of Corrections is hoping for money to help released inmates re-enter society, as well as fund hundreds of new positions within the state’s prison system.

The department’s Budget Director Mark Tallent projects the nation’s third-largest prison system will need about $32.4 million to fund the 328 new positions needed to account for an increase in inmates in future years.

Escaped Prisoners Prompt Widening Inquiry

Oct 25, 2013
R.Benk / WFSU-News

A week after two Florida convicts were recaptured after escaping using bogus release documents, authorities still are unsure exactly how or with whom the inmates coordinated their short-lived escape attempts. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is scrambling to ensure more prisoners aren’t on the loose.

Joseph Jenkins and Charles Walker strolled out of the same Franklin Correctional Facility 12 days apart after prison officials received forged release papers. They were recaptured at a Panama City hotel Saturday evening.

Florida Department of Corrections

Florida law enforcement officials now confirm the prison escape of two inmates who used forged documents isn’t an isolated incident. A records review shows a recent escape from a prison in Franklin County is at least the seventh of its kind in just the last four years. 

Bay County Sheriff's Office

Following the recapture of two Florida inmates who used forged documents to escape prison, the Florida Senate has scheduled a hearing for next month to make sure such a jailbreak is harder to achieve.

Fleming Island Republican Senator Rob Bradley says he wants to conduct a thorough review of what allowed convicted murderers Joseph Jenkins and Charles Walker to walk out of prison. Bradley is the head of a Senate Budget committee that looks at criminal justice issues.

Florida Channel

Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, sentencing reforms, and re-entry programs for inmates are just a few areas on the agenda for the Legislature’s criminal justice committees during the upcoming Legislative session.

Florida Channel

The privatization of prison health care services in Florida is expected to be fully implemented by mid-October. The effort, projected to save the department millions of dollars, caused thousands of employees to lose their state jobs.

Speaking before a Senate Criminal Justice budget panel Wednesday, Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Mike Crews said the privatization effort is almost done. There’s only one facility left that needs to privatize its prison health care services.

A Florida appeals court has reversed a lower court decision, and has given the Florida Department of Corrections the go-ahead to privatize prison health care services throughout the state. But, one union representing thousands of employees who don’t want to lose their state jobs says the fight may not be over.

Last December, a Circuit Judge essentially backed American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME, one of the unions that filed the health care privatization challenge.

Ryan Benk / WFSU-FM

It could take weeks before a Florida appeals court decides whether to allow the Florida Department of Corrections to move forward with privatizing the prison health care services in several Florida regions. It’s all part of a continuing legal battle between the department and unions representing employees who fear they’ll lose their state jobs.

Ryan Benk / WFSU-FM

A three-judge panel heard arguments Tuesday in a legal dispute between the Florida Department of Corrections and its prison health care workers who fear losing their state jobs. It’s the latest after a lower court ruled the department could only privatize prison health care in one region of the state, but must leave two other regions alone.

This week is National Corrections Week, and Gov. Rick Scott took some time away from his “Teacher Pay Raise Victory Tour” to praise Florida’s correctional officers. He’s also reminding them about his efforts to get them higher pay. But, some say the state could do more for Florida’s prison officers.

In a video message, Scott says he’s thankful correctional officers are keeping Florida safe.

The Florida Department of Corrections is aiming to further reduce its budget deficit of $95 million with the help of Governor Rick Scott. But, Scott’s recommendation won’t be enough to cover the department’s entire budget hole. So, the department has started looking at cost saving measures in hopes of reaching one of its main goals.

“What we want to do is when we get to June 30th, our goal is to be at zero,” said Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Mike Crews.

Sascha Cordner / WFSU-FM

About 87 percent of the state’s inmate population is expected to be released back into society, and Florida prison officials say it’s important they continue working with those inmates before they become repeat offenders. The Florida Department of Corrections says it’s already seeing proof of that hard work with a decline in the number of inmates coming back to prison over the years.

“Back in 2002, I made the unfortunate decision to drive under the influence,” said Eric Smallridge.

Florida Department of Corrections

The Florida Department of Corrections has a new Secretary, but he’s not new to the agency. It’s the department’s Second-In-Command Mike Crews, who was recently appointed to his new role by Governor Rick Scott. But, as the third Secretary in less than two years, Crews faces several challenges in leading the nation’s third largest prison system.

As the state continues its battle to privatize the state’s prison health care services, some employees, who are still in limbo, may now have to reapply for their state benefits. About a thousand Florida Department of Corrections employees, who thought their positions would be taken over by a private company, may have prematurely canceled their insurance coverage.

Sascha Cordner / WFSU-FM

Florida Governor Rick Scott named a new person to head the state’s prison system Monday. Florida Department of Corrections Deputy Secretary Mike Crews has moved up to lead the agency, making him the third chief under Scott in less than two years.

With about 30 years of state corrections and law enforcement experience, Crews says he hopes to bring stability and consistency to the department.

The Florida Department of Corrections is preparing to file an appeal, after a Judge ruled privatizing most of the health care services in Florida’s prisons, illegal. The department says the state would face a massive budget deficit, if it complies with the decision. But, some say the department should stop fighting the ruling because of the thousands of prison health care workers unsure about their jobs.

The Florida Department of Corrections is asking state lawmakers for about $20-million to fund what it says are three of its top priorities for the upcoming Legislative Session. The department's Deputy Secretary Mike Crews made the funding requests to a Senate Budget panel for Criminal and Civil Justice issues Thursday.

Among them is an increase in funding to pay for hundreds of new positions at 12 of the state’s prison facilities.

Updated 5:28 p.m.

The Florida Department of Corrections has announced it is appealing the Judge's ruling. Below is a statement from the department's Deputy Secretary Mike Crews:

****UPDATE: Judge has Ruled. Read Story HERE****

The jobs of about the three-thousand correctional employees’ jobs hang in the balance as a Leon Circuit Judge decides whether the state can privatize its prison health care services. The judge must rule on whether a Legislative Budget panel overstepped its authority by approving the plan, even after several attempts to privatize had been struck down by the courts.

A Leon Circuit Judge is now set to decide on a case regarding the privatization of health care services in Florida’s prison system. The Judge says he expects to make his decision soon to determine whether a legislative budget panel overstepped when it gave the Florida Department of Corrections the go-ahead on the privatization effort.

A legal dispute over the privatization of health care services in Florida’s prisons is far from over. A Leon Circuit Judge says he does not have all the information he needs to make a ruling yet. But, his ultimate decision will not only affect thousands of public employees in jeopardy of losing their jobs, it could also become a precedent in deciding what kind of authority a Florida legislative budget panel has in making future budgetary decisions.

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