The pay is low, the hours are long, the work is dangerous and the locations are remote.
Florida's Department of Corrections continues to face an officer shortage, forcing those that remain to work longer and forcing taxpayers to cover the cost.
Florida's DOC budget came in at $2.4 billion last year; of that, $61 million was spent on overtime. At Tomoka Correctional Institution in Volusia County the vacancy rate has remained above 10 percent since December, with the facility paying out $1.7 million in overtime in the last year.
"Nobody's happy, you try to make plans with coworkers and can't do it, they say I got stuck working a double," says former officer Tim Dugin. "You've got plans with your friends or with your kids and they call you in."
The Florida Legislature, which sets the budget for the DOC, did not approve a raise for officers in 2019. The legislature did, however, lower the age for new officers from 19 to 18, as well as institute a $1,000 signing bonus.
"I've spent my military career training and leading remarkable eighteen-year-old men and women, and I am confident in our Department's ability to equip these new recruits with the training and leadership they need to succeed in their public safety careers," said Florida DOC Secretary General Mark Inch in a statement to 9 Investigates.
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