DOC secretary pushes forward with shift reductions despite union objections

Politics

TALLAHASSEE (WFLA) – The Florida Department of Corrections is moving ahead with plans to change from 12 hour shifts to 8 and a half hour shifts in at least a third of the state’s prisons.

The move is opposed by the union representing officers, but in an exclusive interview, the new Secretary said he’s banking his department’s future on the change.

Faced with a staffing crisis just over seven years ago, state prisons moved to 12 hour shifts with rotating days off.

Instead of solving the problem, 3,000 of the 13,000 positions used to guard inmates are vacant.

Corrections Secretary Mark Inch calls it a downward spiral.

“You know, As the vacancies increase, you have to rely more on the overtime, but as you rely more on the overtime, the vacancies increase,” said Inch.

Officers now working 12 hour shifts can be ordered to work four hours of overtime.

Before the 12 hour shifts, the department spent $6 million a year on overtime.

Last year it was $70 million.

It is part of the reason the system has seen an uptick in staff on inmate violence.

“Fatigue affects behavior, of course,” said Inch.

But the union representing the officers opposes the change to shorter shifts.

“Every once in a while, they get a weekend off, where when they go to the eight hour shift, that’s not gonna happen. And that’s very important to the officers,” said James Baiardi with the Florida Police Benevolent Association.

Union aside, the Secretary says the agency is going forward with the pilot

“We’re not going to convince them all, but we are going to bring in a whole new generation of correctional officers, because this is about being able to bring in and retain a new generation of corrections professionals,” said Inch.

Under the plan, a third of the prisons would move to 8 hour shifts next summer.

The conversion of the rest of the department will be based on how the pilot works and lawmakers providing the funding for more hires.

Part of the plan also calls for $1,500 bonuses after two years on the job, and $2,500 more after five years.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Top Videos

Thursday Early Forecast

Thumbnail for the video titled "Thursday Early Forecast"

Tampa Mayor Castor on places of worship order

Thumbnail for the video titled "Tampa Mayor Castor on places of worship order"

Sheriff seeking arrest warrant against local pastor

Thumbnail for the video titled "Sheriff seeking arrest warrant against local pastor"

residents concerned about covid patient

Thumbnail for the video titled "residents concerned about covid patient"

Nurses union protesting lack of protective gear at HCA hospitals

Thumbnail for the video titled "Nurses union protesting lack of protective gear at HCA hospitals"

a group of past and present Tampa Bay Buccaneers decided to help the local community by donating food and supplies to seniors in the area

Thumbnail for the video titled "a group of past and present Tampa Bay Buccaneers decided to help the local community by donating food and supplies to seniors in the area"

Deposit Returned

Thumbnail for the video titled "Deposit Returned"

Tampa woman self-isolating with rescue ducks

Thumbnail for the video titled "Tampa woman self-isolating with rescue ducks"

Hillsborough County to use 2 hotels as quarantine, isolation sites for residents impacted by COVID-19

Thumbnail for the video titled "Hillsborough County to use 2 hotels as quarantine, isolation sites for residents impacted by COVID-19"

Invisible lines in sand cause confusion as Pinellas County beachgoers persist despite coronavirus orders

Thumbnail for the video titled "Invisible lines in sand cause confusion as Pinellas County beachgoers persist despite coronavirus orders"

NFL to begin season as scheduled in September

Thumbnail for the video titled "NFL to begin season as scheduled in September"

Businesses react

Thumbnail for the video titled "Businesses react"
More Local News

Trending Stories

get the app

News App

Weather App

Don't Miss

More Don't Miss