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Despite Efforts, Florida Prisons Staffing Shortage Significantly Climbs

Florida Department of Corrections

Despite a series of efforts, the Florida Department of Corrections is still facing a significant staffing shortage. The agency’s vacancy rates have more than doubled in the last year.

In 2016, the vacancies among Florida’s correctional officers was around 6.5 percent. Prison Chief Julie Jones says it’s now at about 13.2 percent.

“We have not made any strides in any vacancies or in tenure, since the last report that I gave to the legislature,” she said, speaking to members of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice Wednesday. “So, it’s really important to get this pay raise and have our officer see the entire pay raise in their paycheck. They’ve been very weary.”

Last year, Jones says the legislature funded and the Governor approved a targeted, partial pay increase for correctional officers, that just went into effect this month. Jones says she’s hopeful that will have a positive impact, so it can help her agency retain more experienced officers as well as attract new recruits.

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.