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Florida

Florida prisons could be headed for crisis

Jacksonville, Florida – Initial results of a state-commissioned audit find that Florida’s prison system is unsustainable without significant changes and billions of dollars in investment.

The state has earmarked $5 million for an audit to be conducted by global consulting firm KPMG.

Consultants spent 15 months studying the Florida Department of Corrections and found that without policy changes, Florida’s prisons could be heading toward crisis.

Crumbling infrastructure, staffing shortages, and an ever-growing prison population pose significant challenges to the Florida Department of Corrections.

“Unfortunately, Florida, like many other systems, is facing a bit of a perfect storm right now,” said Jeff Goodale, a KPMG consultant.

Consultants shared preliminary results of a 20-year plan for Florida’s prisons with state senators during a committee hearing last week, explaining what could happen if something doesn’t change.

“The consequences could be dire, very expensive, and I think the biggest one is that it could actually erode the public safety system,” they said.

He said the state could face the risk of forced release of inmates, lawsuits and even a federal takeover of the prison.

The consultants’ work also highlights the risks of aging infrastructure in Florida’s prisons and the fact that 75% of housing units lack air conditioning.

“I was just appalled,” said Connie Edson, who attended last week’s Senate committee hearing. She learned about the issue when her loved one was incarcerated, and she became an advocate for air conditioning in Florida prisons.

She and her consultants point out that the lack of air conditioning makes it difficult to hire correctional officers.

“And you can’t do the job you’re hired to do if you’re just sweaty and wet,” Edson said.

The audit found that turnover has been around 25% in recent years, and last year this left more than 85,000 shifts vacant at below-emergency staffing levels.

Edson said he thinks lawmakers should consider reducing the number of people incarcerated and expanding options such as house arrest.

“These are just people. If we look at that, we might be able to solve this really big problem that we have. And we have to find a solution,” she said. Ta.

The consultants are expected to complete their report in December.

Right now, the Department of Corrections estimates they will need between $6 billion and $12 billion over the next 20 years, but these are just the options they are presenting. The final decision on how to address Florida’s prison needs will rest with lawmakers.

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https://www.news4jax.com/i-team/2023/11/22/crumbling-infrastructure-staffing-shortages-growing-populations-florida-prisons-could-be-headed-toward-crisis/ Florida prisons could be headed for crisis

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