Keeping Florida’s communities safe is critical to the well-being and peace of mind of our residents and visitors. Public safety is the most important responsibility of government, and the Bolder, Brighter, Better Future budget includes significant investments to keep Florida safe.

Creating a Statewide Behavioral Threat Assessment Strategy

Governor DeSantis’ recommended budget includes $4.7 million and 20 positions to implement the first Statewide Behavioral Threat Assessment (BTAM) strategy in the country. Florida’s BTAM strategy will use Regional Threat Assessment Task Forces throughout the state that will better-enable law enforcement to identify individuals on a pathway to violence and prevent such individuals from committing acts of violence.

The budget also includes $3.6 million to replace the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s (FDLE) record management system and create a data analytics system. These systems will improve FDLE’s ability to identify and analyze data, which will strengthen Florida’s BTAM strategy and allow the agency to proactively address modern threats.

Enhancing Florida’s Crime Databases

FDLE is responsible for maintaining of variety of databases that law enforcement uses daily to investigate crimes and apprehend criminals. Many of these resources are also accessible to the public, which helps keep Floridians safe. The Bolder, Brighter, Better Future budget invests more than $14.5 million to expand and enhance these databases, including: $1.9 million to maintain the Computerized Criminal History database (CCH); $9 million to continue the transition to incident-based crime reporting (FIBRS); and $3.6 million to centralize criminal justice data and make it more transparent to the public.

Safer Correctional Facilities

Governor DeSantis’ recommended budget includes $89.7 million and 292 FTE to improve staffing levels at the Department of Corrections (FDC). This includes: $60.6 million for a targeted retention pay plan for Correctional Officers, Correctional Probation Officers, and Inspectors that aims to address exceptionally high turnover rates by providing a $1,500 pay increase at two years of service and a $2,500 increase at five years of service; and $29.1 million to implement a pilot project that transitions Correctional Officers from a 12-hour shift to an 8.5-hour shift.

The Bolder, Brighter, Better Future budget also includes $6.7 million and 54 FTE to make Florida’s correctional facilities safer. This includes: $3 million for security equipment, such as radios, metal detectors, and cameras; $1.5 million and 20 FTE to assist the Inspector General’s Office with investigations; and $2.2 million and 34 FTE that will allow the Department to more closely monitor gang activity.

Expanding Reentry Programming

Governor DeSantis’ recommended budget includes $8.4 million and 17 FTE to increase inmate reentry programming. This includes: $1.4 million and 17 FTE to begin a four-year plan to ensure there is at least one academic teacher at every major correctional institution and annex; and $4 million to expand career and technical education programs to better meet the vocational training needs of the inmate population and current job market demands.

Improving Inmate Health Services

The Bolder, Brighter, Better Future budget provides $17.1 million to improve inmate health services. This includes: $11.9 million to begin building a 600-bed mental health hospital at Lake Correctional Institution, which will ensure that FDC has adequate resources to treat the mental health needs of inmates; Nearly $1 million and 17 FTE to begin a four-year plan to reestablish wellness programs at all major institutions and annexes; and $4.2 million to begin installing the infrastructure needed to transition to electronic medical records.

Improving Correctional Infrastructure

The budget recommends $15.5 million to make critical repairs and renovations to correctional and juvenile facilities. This investment in Florida’s infrastructure not only enhances the safety and security of Florida’s correctional and juvenile officers, inmates, and youth, but will also result in long-term energy and maintenance savings.

Special Risk Benefits for Juvenile Detention Officers

The budget includes $6.2 million to provide special risk benefits to juvenile detention officers. This will help the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) hire and retain qualified staff, which will help ensure that only those with the requisite skills, training, and experience are interacting with our troubled youth.

Improving Residential Programs

Recent reforms at DJJ have culminated in the lowest juvenile arrest rate in more than 44 years. To build on this success, the Governor’s recommended budget includes more than $4.8 million to improve DJJ’s 55 residential programs. This includes: $4.2 million to improve staffing and evidence-based services in residential facilities; and $608,000 and 6 FTE to ensure that quality medical services are being provided in residential facilities.

At-Risk Youth Programs and Prevention Services

Governor DeSantis recognizes that effective prevention programs reduce the likelihood that a child will have future involvement with the juvenile justice system. Recent investments in such programs have played a critical role in reducing juvenile arrest rates to the lowest in 44 years. The Bolder, Brighter, Better Future budget recommends more than $14 million to fund prevention programs for at-risk youth. This includes funding for the following programs: Youth ChalleNGe Program$5.8 million for a residential program at Camp Blanding that provides 16-18 year-olds who withdraw or are removed from school with opportunities such as high school credit recovery, career-technical education, and life preparation classes; Mentoring Initiatives$7.1 million for the Department of Education to contract with mentoring programs throughout the state; and Contracted Prevention Funding for DJJ – An additional $1.1 million for DJJ to contract with evidence-based prevention programs, such as SNAP and Children/Families in Need of Services (CINS/FINS).

Protecting Florida’s Families and Seniors

The Bolder, Brighter, Better Future budget also includes funding for the Department of Legal Affairs that will protect Floridians from fraudulent practices. This includes $1.7 million and 16 FTE to address increasing cyber fraud threats, better-identify emerging senior fraud trends, focus on the increasing number of organized retail theft enterprises, and better respond to price-gouging complaints.

Supporting Military and Their Families

The budget provides $27 million for Florida’s military presence and families, which funds the State’s support of military research and development. This includes the following: $2 million for the Florida Defense Support Task Force; $1.6 million for the Defense Infrastructure Program; $420,000 to reinforce the seawall at the Florida National Guard Headquarters; $3.4 million for armory maintenance; $6.2 million to rebuild the Panama City Armory due to Hurricane Michael destruction; $4.2 million to support Florida National Guardsmen seeking higher education degrees; $8.4 million to support scholarships for children and spouses of deceased or disabled veterans; and $780,000 for satellite-based communication terminals for National Guardsmen to use during storm-related missions and duties.

Increased Funding for the Guardian ad Litem

The budget provides $2 million and 35 FTE to help ensure that dependent children are represented by a Guardian ad Litem (GAL). These funds will allow the GAL to hire an additional 35 Child Advocate Managers who will work in areas of the state that are seeing the greatest growth in foster care placements.

Problem-Solving Courts

Problem-solving courts, such as drug courts, mental health courts, and veterans’ courts, address the root causes of justice system involvement through specialized dockets, multidisciplinary teams, and a non-adversarial approach. These courts use evidence-based treatment and increased judicial supervision to provide individualized interventions for participants, which reduces recidivism. The Bolder, Brighter, Better Future budget provides more than $11.4 million to continue the operation of problem-solving courts throughout the state.