Florida’s cash-strapped prison system is hemorrhaging money and guards, and the state’s refusal to spend what it takes to maintain safety behind bars is endangering staff, inmates and the public. Those findings, by an outside auditor commissioned by the Florida Department of Corrections, should be a wakeup call for Gov. Rick Scott and the Legislature to finally restore adequate funding to the state’s prison system.
here is no obligation more fundamental to government than ensuring public safety. But the findings by the National Institute of Corrections amount to a sweeping indictment of this governor and Legislature when it comes to funding the system for keeping prison facilities safe and convicted criminals away from the general public.
As Mary Ellen Klas of the Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureaureported, the audit found that Florida’s prisons are so “chronically understaffed” for even most daily routines that an emergency should be declared to keep corrections officers and inmates safe.
The report concluded that staffing shortages cost the state millions of dollars in overtime. For the year ending in June, auditors who visited six prison facilities across Florida found the state had fallen below minimum staffing levels at least 22,000 times — a standard that according to the independent panel presents “a danger to the public, staff and inmates.”