Florida Department of Corrections

Gov. Ron DeSantis speaking at Operation New Hope in Jacksonville.
Brendan Rivers / WJCT News

Governor Ron DeSantis announced Friday that he has created a new organization to help reduce the state’s recidivism rate through increased investment in career readiness training and community re-entry programs for inmates.

Will Dickey / Florida Times-Union

Tuesday on First Coast Connect with guest host Ryan Benk we heard about the move by the Florida Department of Corrections to change the ways visitors can visit inmates with Florida Times-Union reporter Ben Conrack (01:27).

Will Dickey / The Florida Times-Union

Thursday on First Coast Connect we spoke with Florida Times-Union reporter Ben Conarck about his investigation into how visitors to Baker Correctional Institution are treated (01:02).

Ahead of his appearance in Jacksonville next week we heard from legendary Disney and Pixar animator Floyd Norman (27:46).

With World Glaucoma Week just ending we heard about some new treatments for sufferers with Florida Eye Specialists Dr. Kathryn Friedl and patient Carol Matthews (38:30).

Ahead of this weekend’s A Brush With Nature event at the Jacksonville Arboretum we spoke with painter Randy Pitts and Board Chair Patty Miller.

Kerry Speckman told us what’s coming up this weekend and next week in the world of entertainment.  (46:00)    

Corrections officers
Florida Department of Corrections

A deal on the state's public-safety budget that lawmakers reached late Friday would not give the Department of Corrections the 734 additional positions the agency says are necessary to make Florida's prisons more secure.

The new jobs were part of an effort by the department to have corrections officers work eight-hour shifts instead of 12-hour shifts. The department has been reeling from a series of reports about issues such as contraband smuggling and abuse of inmates.

Prison Legal News

Inmates won't be reading a newspaper banned by Florida corrections officials anytime soon, due to a decision by a Tallahassee federal judge who said the publication's advertisements pose a threat to security.

But in a ruling last week, U.S. District Judge Mark E. Walker also handed a partial victory to Prison Legal News, finding that Department of Corrections officials violated the publication's constitutional due-process rights by failing to provide notification when copies of the monthly periodical were impounded.

An internal investigation is underway following the deaths of two inmates at Baker Correctional Institution in Sanderson, Florida last week.

They’re just the latest inmate deaths in Florida, which have sparked calls for reform of the state’s correctional system. Florida has the third-largest prison system in the nation, with more than 100,000 inmates and a $2.1 billion budget.

Wikimedia Commons

Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Julie Jones plans to bar the use of chemical agents on prisoners with histories of respiratory ailments and is changing procedures to reduce the use of force on severely mentally ill inmates.

The changes to the policy regarding inmates with respiratory ailments, such as asthma, come after reports of at least two prisoners dying as a result of complications from preexisting breathing-related medical conditions. The inmates had been gassed by guards.

About a fifth of Florida’s inmate population is elderly. A new report warns as the state’s aging prison population continues to rise, officials will soon be dealing with a severe strain on Florida’s budget.

The Florida Department of Corrections characterizes elderly prisoners as those over the age of 50. According to a Florida TaxWatch report, the average health care costs for elderly prisoners is about 11,000 dollars a year—nearly four times what it costs for younger inmates.

Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Mike Crews is a bit troubled by some of the overall prison stats, and he's alarmed by some of the African American numbers as well.

Florida has the third largest prison system in the country, housing about 101,000 inmates. Of those, about 48 percent are black.  

That's just some of the stats Crews mentioned at the recent 29th Annual National Conference on Preventing Crime in the Black Community, which took place in Jacksonville.

The New Republic has published photos from the autopsy of Angel Diaz, whose botched execution by lethal injection in 2006 prompted then Florida Governor Jeb Bush to issue a moratorium on executions. DISCLAIMER: The link below contains graphic images.

navalatanjjnn / Deviant Art

A new peer-reviewed study finds that inmates leaving prison have used the power of spirituality successfully to avoid going back to a life of crime.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement

Three Florida inmates and one Panama City resident have been charged with helping two convicted killers escape prison using fraudulent documents earlier this year.