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Florida National Guard Not the Answer to State’s Prison Staffing Emergency 

Decarceration, home detention, parole and sentencing reform provide real solutions  

 

Tallahassee, Florida — The state’s Joint Legislative Budget Commission is taking up a proposal to allocate $31.25 million that would cover the cost of activating the National Guard to help in Florida’s prisons. SPLC Action Fund opposes this proposal and argues that the honest answer to the staffing crisis is reducing the number of incarcerated people within the state.  

According to the Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) the prison population is about 80,000 people, including nearly 24,000 people incarcerated for nonviolent property and drug offenses. The state also has one of the oldest prison populations, with thousands of incarcerated people who have aged out of crime and are not being released. 

The following is a statement from Delvin Davis, regional policy analyst for the SPLC Action Fund:  

“It is true that FDOC has struggled to attract and retain employees. However, the answer is not bringing in the National Guard, an expensive and inadequate band-aid that could prevent them from responding to hurricanes and other disasters where the guard’s presence can be lifesaving. The answer is reducing the prison population.  

“Florida currently locks up too many people who should never have been incarcerated. Getting non-violent drug offenders, the elderly and those who can clearly be rehabilitated out of cages would help solve this problem without the drain on taxpayers of bringing in the costly National Guard, a group that is not designed to be corrections officers.  

“If we can get serious about sentencing reform, reinstate parole and save money by placing people who do not require lockup into home detention, we can solve this problem in a smart, cost-effective, and humane way. We trust the Budget Commission will pursue a smart and economical solution instead of wasting tax-payer dollars without working toward a long-term solution.”