After defeat for prison system, Jones said 'we had consensus'
A disappointed Corrections Secretary Julie Jones did not expect legislative leaders to deny her request to hire 734 additional correctional officers. Sen. Tom Lee and Rep. Richard Corcoran said Friday night that they rejected the proposal.
The agency said it will have enough money to hire the 734 officers, but it needed legislative authorization to fill the positions, which three separate operational reviews concluded are urgently needed.
Jones said she thought she had a deal with the Legislature, and she released a statement in which she said "we believed we had consensus." Here is Jones' complete statement:
"After hearing the Legislature's concerns regarding the Department's request for 734 additional FTE (full-time employees), we brokered a compromise to phase the positions in using a two-year implementation plan. Our strategy was to have the Legislature authorize the 734 positions, immediately releasing 361 for the Department to recruit and hire in the first year, and placing the remaining 373 positions in reserve. Having hired the 361 additional staff in the first year and reported our success back to the Legislature, phase two would begin and the remaining 373 positions would be released from the reserve to complete the hiring process. We believed that we had consensus in this compromise. The Department's request to implement 8-hour shifts is an operational imperative. This is an inmate and officer safety issue and something that the agency will continue to fight for this session."
The Legislature's decision to not authorize the 734 positions is yet another political defeat for Gov. Rick Scott as well. Scott's initial budget recommendation last November did not include those positions, but he did endorse Jones' request in January. Scott's release is here. In it, the governor said adding the officers will reduce the costly rate of recidivism in Florida prisons.