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Prisons are an integral part of the countries Criminal Justice System. They serve as the institutes through which society members who break the law are punished and rehabilitated. The state of Florida has several correctional facilities, which have been set up to, achieve the retribution and rehabilitation roles of the Criminal Justice System. This paper will identify the types and locations of Florida’s prisons with a description of the recent inmate population and an analysis of the issues that currently affect the prison system.
Types and Location
The prison system in Florida is comprised of several facilities which include “major institutions, annexes, work camps, work release centers and road prisons” (Tucker, 2012). A number of factors are taken into consideration when determining the facility that the inmate will be sent to. The factors include the amount of time to be served and the nature of the offense for which the person is being incarcerated. Past criminal records will also be factored in with first offenders being considered for minimum-security facilities while repeat offenders are sent securer facilities.
Tucker (2012) states that the major institutions house inmates whose sentences exceed a year and at 84%, this constitutes the majority of the offenders. The major institutions are partitioned into levels according to the security needs of the inmates; minimum security houses inmates who are not considered a threat while maximum facilities hold the most dangerous criminals. Road prisons are facilities that hold inmates who have been sentenced for over a year and who are not considered dangerous. The inmates engage in community work such as collecting recycling materials and doing roadwork. Work camps also house inmates who are serving sentences exceeding one year and the inmates engage in some form of labor. Work/Forestry Camps are a type of prison facility for the minimum to medium inmates who have completed part of their sentences at correctional institutions. The inmates engage in community work such as cleaning roadways and maintaining buildings, cleaning up forests. Work Release centers house inmates who have been sentenced to more than a year but who are remaining with two or three years to complete their sentences. The facilities are not secured by perimeter fences and inmates can engage in paid employment in the community.
The Florida Department of Correction has 61 major institutions of which 7 are privatized facilities. The Secretary of the Florida Department of Corrections documents that the major institutions and privatized facilities housed 100,272 inmates as of August 2012 (Tucker, 2012). The Florida prison facilities are classified into three geographical regions. Region 1 comprises the North West area, it has 15 major institutions, and 4 privatized facilities within its boundaries. Region II is the north-central area, it has 17 major institutions and 1 privatized facility. The region houses 32,284 of the total offenders in the State. Region III is made up of the southern area of Florida, it has 16 major Institutions and 2 privatized facilities.
Violent offenders contribute 52% to the total inmate population making them the majority. They are followed by property offenders who make up 21.8% and drug offenders who constitute 17.4% (Tucker, 2012). The other offenses contribute 8.3% to the prison population. Like with many other states, the majority of inmates in Florida are male. Statistics indicate that as of July 2012, the prison population was made up of 93% male and only 7% female inmates (Tucker, 2012).
Issue Affecting Prisons
Due to the growing population, the Florida prison system has been faced with significant growth in the prison population over the decades. While new facilities have been built by the state and the capacity of old institutions expanded, the growth in inmate numbers has been greater (Pollock, 2006, p.59). This has led to the problem of overcrowding since some facilities are a forced to operate beyond their maximum capacity. Haney (2006, p.265) notes that overcrowding also results in the prison infrastructure, such as medical resources and rehabilitation programs, being unable to serve the entire population adequately. The overcrowding has mostly been caused by the lengthening of sentences as the state adopts a tough-on-crime stance. Haney (2006, p.266) also notes that an increase in incarceration for non-violent crimes such as drug users has led to the phenomenal increase of the prison population.
Prison gangs also pose significant issues in Florida Prisons. Gangs engage in violence within the facilities, therefore, disrupting prison life. Tucker (2011) notes that most of while most of the violence is directed against fellow inmates, some gangs attack prison staff. The fact that most gangs require prospective members to engage in a violent act as an initiation rite further increases the danger that gangs pose to prison security.
This paper set out to identify the types and locations of Florida’s prisons and identify some issues affecting the prison system. To this end, the paper has identified the 3 groupings of prison facilities and offered a breakdown of the prison types. Overcrowding and violence have been highlighted as some of the issues that currently face the prison system.
Haney, C. (2006). The Wages of Prison Overcrowding: Harmful Psychological Consequences and Dysfunctional Correctional Reactions. Journal of Law & Policy, 22(1), 265-276.
Pollock, J. (2006). Prisons: today and tomorrow. NY: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Tucker, K. (2011). Major Prison Gangs. Florida Department of Corrections. Web.
Tucker, K. (2012). Introduction to Information on Florida Correctional Facilities. Florida Department of Corrections. Web.