The Florida Times-Union’s recent editorial on Florida’s prison system used limited data from our recent report to draw inaccurate, misleading conclusions.

 

It failed to show the full picture of Florida’s prison system today.

The department’s mission is not easy, but we continue to challenge ourselves to be a national leader in correctional policy and procedure.

As secretary, I have been upfront and transparent while advocating for our needs and helping the public understand our challenges.

I have discussed these issues with Florida’s legislative leadership, which has listened and provided support. While challenges exist, great progress is being made.

Last session, Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature approved a three-tiered approach targeting recruitment and retention.

Our greatest challenge is our staffing shortages, and this plan will go a long way toward hiring and retaining good officers.

i’m proud of our officers

The plan provided a base pay increase for correctional officers, a 10 percent increase in pay for officers who work in mental health units and a hiring bonus at high-vacancy institutions. The pay raises went into effect last week.

I am proud of our officers for working bravely and diligently every day as they provide difficult and sometimes violent individuals with needed rehabilitative programming and services.

While our report shows an increase in use of force incidents last year, the majority were found to be appropriate and absolutely necessary to prevent injury to staff, the inmate and other inmates. Use of force is always our last resort, and we work every day to provide extensive training to staff — including directing officers to report even the most minor and justifiable uses of force to the Inspector General for review.

my commitment is clear

My commitment to the inmates and their loved ones is that the issues we face and address will always be transparent and open.

I have been clear in identifying issues around the department — from fixing our infrastructure to building successful, evidence-based programming.

Our approach and the support of Gov. Scott and the Legislature has led to hundreds of millions of dollars being invested into our department with the sole purpose of creating a safer and more rehabilitative environment.

Together we will continue to work to reduce recidivism during this record 46-year low in crime rate.

I cannot emphasize enough our commitment to the safety and security of our institutions.

Secretary Julie Jones,

Florida Department of Corrections,

Tallahassee