Making Florida First for Public Safety

Governor Scott understands that Florida can only prosper when communities are safe. Because of the hard work of Florida’s law enforcement officers, Florida’s crime rate is at a 44-year low, even as Florida’s population continues to grow. Similarly, juvenile delinquency has significantly decreased, with a 32 percent reduction in youth arrested over the last five years.

Law EnforcementGovernor Scott also recognizes that evidence-based diversionary and reentry programs help to reduce recidivism. His emphasis on such programs has helped to reduce Florida’s recidivism rate to 25.7 percent – an all-time low. This translates into fewer crime victims and safer neighborhoods. Public safety is the foundation upon which Florida will become the number one state in the nation to live, work, and visit.

Florida First in Prison Reform –Governor Scott supports reforming Florida’s prisons. Last year, the Governor secured $10 million for the Department of Corrections (DOC) to maintain and repair facilities statewide, and strategically invested $16.5 million to allow the DOC to hire more than 900 additional correctional and correctional probation officers. The Governor also secured $1.6 million to install audio and video equipment in all dorms statewide, and $2.2 million to replace aging inmate transport and community corrections vehicles.

The Florida First Budget continues Governor’s Scott’s commitment by increasing DOC’s budget by $82 million.

Since the appointment of Secretary Jones, DOC has enlisted the third-party, independent expertise of the National Institute of Corrections and the Association of State Correctional Administrators to assess and evaluate DOC’s statewide operations. These independent analyses provided fact-based assessments on how to best invest taxpayer dollars to make prison facilities safer and enhance reforms.

To build on last year’s reforms, the Florida First budget invests $36 million to make critical repairs and renovations to correctional institutions to make facilities safer for correctional employees as well as the inmates. This investment will also result in long-term energy and maintenance savings. The Florida First budget also works to keep Floridians safe by providing an additional $4 million for reliable vehicles for correctional officers to transport inmates and to supervise offenders.

Bed capacity and staffing is crucial to the safe operation of Florida’s prisons. That’s why the Florida First budget provides $28 million to hire an additional 472 correctional officers at facilities statewide and to ensure the prison system has sufficient flexibility to house inmates at the appropriate correctional facility.

Governor Scott is also committed to mental health reform. Since May 2015, the Governor has issued three Executive Orders that direct DOC to take a variety of measures to improve inmate mental health care. The Florida First budget also enhances the provision of mental health care by increasing the Department’s health care budget by $14 million.

At Risk Youth Programs and Prevention Services – Under the Governor’s leadership, Florida has become a national leader in applying effective intervention strategies for at-risk youth. The Florida First budget continues efforts to reduce juvenile crime through effective investments in preventative programs, intervention, and treatment care for children at risk of criminal behavior. Over the past four years, the decreases in costly juvenile detention and residential commitment programs have saved the state more than $87 million, while redirecting Florida’s at risk youth to leading successful and productive lives. Investments that benefit Florida’s at-risk youth in the Florida First budget include:

  • PACE Center for Girls - $1.3 million to expand the PACE Center for Girls by 75 openings statewide;
  • About Face Program - $1.25 million to provide summer and after-school life preparation programs;
  • Boys and Girls Clubs - $1 million to expand Boys and Girls Clubs programs statewide.
  • Forward March Program - $750,000 to provide job readiness services at selected Florida armories for Work and Gain Economic Self-Sufficiency recipients and other qualifying young adults; and
  • Youth Challenge Program - $127,240 to support the Youth Challenge program at Camp Blanding by providing additional replacement equipment.

Reducing Juvenile Delinquency – The Florida First budget ensures that the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) has the resources it needs to reduce juvenile delinquency. It provides $8.9 million to maintain and repair juvenile facilities statewide to make facilities safer and to provide a better environment for youth undergoing treatment. This increases the safety of the youth in DJJ’s custody, and also protects Florida’s investment in its infrastructure.

The Florida First budget also provides $1.9 million to improve youth-to-staff ratios at DJJ’s non-secure residential facilities, which has been proven to reduce youth arrests by 66 percent and escapes by 50 percent.

Supporting Florida’s Law Enforcement Officers – Law Enforcement OfficersThe Florida First budget continues to ensure that law enforcement officers have the tools they need to investigate and fight crime in communities. The Florida First budget invests $8.5 million for the Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) to fund a variety of enhancements for Florida’s state crime laboratories. This includes funding for lab equipment, DNA database upgrades, and crime scene vehicles. It also provides a competitive pay adjustment for crime laboratory employees that will help retain skilled and experienced personnel. The Florida First budget also provides $400,000 for overtime pay for crime lab employees that process evidence, including rape test kits.

This funding will reduce the turnaround time for processing evidence, including rape test kits, which will help Florida’s law enforcement officers solve crimes more quickly and keep more Floridians safe.

FDLE maintains more than 200 databases used daily by Florida’s law enforcement officers to investigate crimes, track dangerous felony offenders, and to locate missing and endangered persons. The public also uses these databases to run background checks and to identify where sexual offenders reside. The Florida First budget provides $7.3 million to ensure that these databases are secure, reliable, and accessible.

The Governor’s budget also provides $2 million to the Florida Violent Crime and Drug Control Council. This will enable FDLE and local law enforcement agencies to better respond to emerging crime trends.