Florida Department of Corrections Banner, Secretary Mark S. Inch

 
Press Release
June 19, 2019
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Governor Ron DeSantis Signs HB 7057: Corrections

Tallahassee, Fla. — Yesterday, Governor Ron DeSantis signed HB 7057: Corrections. The bill addresses security and staffing within the state correctional system.

HB 7057 amends the definition of “critical infrastructure facility” to include state correctional institutions and county detention facilities, among others, to the list of facilities protected by Florida law from drone operation over, near, or in contact with such facilities. Drones pose a wide range of security challenges to prisons including the risk of contraband introduction. Criminalizing knowingly and willfully operating a drone over a facility such as a state correctional institution will help deter and reduce the introduction of dangerous and illegal contraband.

HB 7057 also expands the applicant base for correctional officers within the state prison system to help address growing staffing shortages. The legislation changes the minimum age requirement for a correctional officer from 19 to 18 years of age. Applicants may enroll in a correctional officer academy and gain the required training and credentials prior to certification. Currently, 23 other states allow correctional officers to be hired at 18. The Association of State Correctional Administrators recommended lowering the applicant eligibility age to 18, which is comparable to career paths such as the military or fire departments.

HB 7057 will take effect on July 1, 2019. The Department of Corrections will begin a targeted social media campaign to recruit newly eligible correctional officers interested in starting their public safety career.

“Signing this bill is an important step to ensure the Florida Department of Corrections has the tools they need to operate safe and secure institutions,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “Drones over prisons are a significant security risk, and in Florida we want to do everything we can to make certain this technology stays out of our prisons and jails. Also, by expanding the hiring age for Florida’s correctional officers, we are opening more doors for young women and men to begin an honorable public safety career in our state.”

“Governor DeSantis continues his strong commitment to keep Florida a safe place for families by signing this important public safety legislation,” said Florida Department of Corrections Secretary General Mark Inch. “I’ve spent my military career training and leading remarkable eighteen-year-old men and women and I am confident in our Department’s ability to equip these new recruits with the training and leadership they need to succeed in their public safety careers. The signing of House Bill 7057 will also assist the Department in countering the use of drones to introduce dangerous contraband into Florida’s prisons.”

"My colleagues and I worked together to pass the most transformational criminal justice reform in decades, and addressing the staffing and safety issues at correctional facilities was a crucial component,” said Senator Keith Perry. “This bill not only acts as an economic driver by increasing the labor pool for correctional officers, it also enhances our safety measures to eliminate dangerous contraband. Thank you, Governor DeSantis, for signing this bill and fulfilling your promise to keep Floridians safe.”

“I applaud the Governor for taking action to address the critical workforce shortage experienced by the Department of Corrections,” said Representative Spencer Roach. “From the end of 2016 to the present day, the number of correctional officer vacancies has increased by 103%. The age threshold of 19 has been a barrier to 18 year-olds interested in a career in corrections, and as a result they are forced to seek careers as firefighters or join the military. By signing this bill into law, the Governor will remove this barrier to entry, both expanding employment opportunities for young adults while simultaneously addressing a public safety issue.”

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As Florida's largest state agency, the Department of Corrections employs 24,000 members statewide, incarcerates approximately 96,000 inmates and supervises nearly 166,000 offenders in the community.

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