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DOC Chief Jones Remains Optimistic As Florida Prison Budget Talks Continue

JulieJones0609.jpg
Florida Channel

The head of Florida’s troubled prison system is optimistic as budget talks continue.  The House and Senate have agreed, for the most part, on the funding, with a few things that still need to be ironed out.

This year, there’s been a big emphasis on funding the Florida Department of Corrections. Sen. Joe Negron (R-Stuart), who headed the criminal budget talks, says the prison budget reflects a lot of what new DOC Secretary Julie Jones wants.

“And, I have confidence in her [Jones] ability to make the department of well-functioning, safe department, and so we wanted to make sure she had the tools available to accomplish that. And, I think with a $43 million increase, that that will cover the vast majority of the requests that she made to us.”

Among the priorities are taking care of staffing levels and fixing deteriorating buildings. Jones says she got most of what she asked for.

“From my initial assessment as a new Secretary, they’ve fully funded all of my requests for FTE [full-time employees] and salary dollars, which is outstanding,” said Jones, speaking to reporters Tuesday.

She’d also asked for $15 million for maintenance and repair.

“We need constant attention our needs currently and future needs for fixed capital outlay and repair of facilities, but they’ve come across with almost $8 million,” she added. “So, that’s a very good start.”

One of the areas still under budget consideration is whether to increase the funding for the inmate health care services contracts.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter: @SaschaCordner.

Sascha Cordner has more than ten years of public radio experience. It includes working at NPR member station WUFT-FM in Gainesville for several years. She's worked in both radio and TV, serving in various capacities as a reporter, producer and anchor. She's also a graduate of the University of Florida with a bachelor's degree in telecommunications. She is the recipient of 15 awards from the Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), and Edward R. Murrow. Her award-winning stories include her coverage on the infamous “Dozier School for Boys” and a feature titled "Male Breast Cancer: Lost in the Sea of Pink." Currently, Sascha serves as the host and producer of local and state news content for the afternoon news program "All Things Considered" at WFSU. Sascha primarily covers criminal justice and social services issues. When she's not reporting, Sascha likes catching up on her favorite TV shows, singing and reading. Follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter:@SaschaCordner.