On September 9, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued an executive order to activate the Florida National Guard to help the Florida Department of Corrections deal with correctional officer shortages.
The Joint Legislative Budget Committee approved a $31 million plan for the Florida National Guard to assist the FDOC for 9 months or until no longer needed for assistance. DeSantis approved the plan and issued the executive order.
The Florida National Guard has since deployed 300 members statewide.
Their duties will include managing guard towers, perimeter patrols and checkpoints, which will allow correctional officers to care for and supervise inmates. Guards will not deal with inmates or their supervision.
With the help of the National Guard, this partnership will ease the burden on correctional employees and give the FDOC more time to find more employees.
“We received historic salary increases for our correctional officers and hired more correctional officers per month than we have seen in years,” Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Ricky Dixon said. in a press release. “With temporary support from the Florida National Guard, we can recover and train the next generation of public safety professionals to accomplish our important mission,”
Even with salary increases and other benefits offered by the FDOC to recruit more members, more than 4,000 vacancies need to be filled statewide.
They are also adding a $1,000 signing bonus for new officers in select locations and also adding incentives for current DOC officers.
Wakulla Correctional Facility Superintendent Paul Allen made a statement in an FDOC press release regarding the partnership with the National Guard.
“As a recently retired guard of 32 years, I fully appreciate the preparedness and support functions of the Florida National Guard and am honored to see them working alongside our personnel,” Allen said.
Wakulla Correctional Facility in Crawfordville has had approximately 270 vacancies as of last month with a staff complement of approximately 500 employees.
Members of the Florida National Guard will assist the following understaffed facilities: Reception Center, Northwest Florida Reception and Medical Center and Correctional Facilities in Calhoun, Franklin, Hamilton, Jackson, Mayo, Santa Rosa and Union.
For more information about job openings at the Florida Department of Corrections, visit the My Florida website.