TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WFLA) — Members of Florida’s National Guard will soon be working in prisons across the state after the legislature approved the proposal in a budget meeting on Friday.

After a lengthy debate followed by several public comments, lawmakers signed off on the plan with hopes of relieving the staffing crisis in state prisons.

In an unrelated press conference on Friday morning, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd expressed his support for the proposal and encouraged Floridians to consider a career in corrections.

“Unlike Rep. Driskell and all that group, I want to encourage you to send your loved ones to work at the department of corrections. It’s noble,” Sheriff Judd said. 

However, some legislators think the plan is a short term solution for a long term problem.

“It’s a band-aid. We know that the infrastructure of our prisons is crumbling. It’s just appalling that the governor would want to take this kind of tactic” said Rep. Fentrice Driskell (D-Tampa).

Representatives chimed in via Zoom during the budget meeting and questioned how using them to staff prisons could affect the guardsmen’s other duties.

“Based on our current assessment, the National Guard will still have full capacity to support the citizens of Florida if we support the Department of Corrections.” said Lt. Col. Peter Jennison Deputy Director of Strategic and Policy Plans for the Florida National Guard .

The approved budget proposal freed up over $31 million to cover the costs of activating up to 300 members of Florida’s national guard. The guard members reportedly will not be in direct supervision of inmates.