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Website Changes, Officer Training Among Fla. Prison Agency's Anti-Human Trafficking Efforts

MGN Online

The head of the Florida Department of Corrections says her agency is doing its part to help make sure released inmates aren’t targeted by potential human traffickers.

Years ago, the Florida Department of Corrections website made it easier for law enforcement to have access to inmate data. But, because it was also easily accessible to the public, Florida Prison Chief Julie Jones says potential human traffickers could use it as well.

“It could too easily identify vulnerable inmates by sex, hair color, eye color, county that they would be released for potential targeting,” she said.

So, Jones says going forward the department has restricted the inmate data that would be useful to potential traffickers. She says her staff also doing a better job of interviewing inmates—particularly those with alcohol and drug addiction or prostitution backgrounds.

“We're asking, ‘do you have some place to go? Where are you going? What resources do you have?’ to make sure we did a handoff to community or to family,” she added.

Jones says they're also handing out pamphlets and putting posters up. Correctional officers are already training on what to look for and how to report suspected human trafficking cases. A separate training program for probation officers is still in development. It’s expected to be completed by the end of next month and implemented by June 30.

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.