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The Florida Statutes

The 2023 Florida Statutes (including Special Session C)

Chapter 944
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F.S. 944.801
944.801 Education for state prisoners.
(1) There is hereby established under the Department of Corrections a Correctional Education Program which shall be composed of the educational facilities and services of all institutions and facilities housing inmates operated by the Department of Corrections and shall be supervised by the Department of Corrections.
(2) The Department of Corrections is vested with the authority and responsibility to manage and operate the Correctional Education Program as provided by law.
(3) The responsibilities of the Correctional Education Program shall be to:
(a) Develop guidelines for collecting education-related information during the inmate reception process and for disseminating such information to the classification staff of the Department of Corrections. The information collected shall include the inmate’s areas of educational or vocational interest, vocational skills, and level of education.
(b) Monitor and assess all inmate education program services and report the results of such evaluation in the annual report of activities.
(c) Develop complete and reliable statistics on the educational histories, the city/intracity area and school district where the inmate was domiciled prior to incarceration, the participation in state educational and training programs, and the occupations of inmates confined to state correctional facilities. The compiled statistics shall be summarized and analyzed in the annual report of correctional educational activities required by paragraph (f).
(d) Approve educational programs of the appropriate levels and types in the correctional institutions and develop procedures for the admission of inmate students thereto.
(e) Enter into agreements with public or private school districts, entities, community colleges, junior colleges, colleges, or universities as may be deemed appropriate for the purpose of carrying out its duties and responsibilities and ensure that agreements require minimum performance standards and standards for measurable objectives, in accordance with established Department of Education standards.
(f) Report annual activities to the Secretary of Corrections.
(g) Develop and maintain complete and reliable statistics on the number of high school equivalency diplomas and vocational certificates issued by each institution in each skill area, the change in inmate literacy levels, and the number of inmate admissions to and withdrawals from education courses. The compiled statistics shall be summarized and analyzed in the annual report of correctional education activities required by paragraph (f).
(h) Develop a written procedure for selecting programs to add to or delete from the vocational curriculum. The procedure shall include labor market analyses that demonstrate the projected demand for certain occupations and the projected supply of potential employees. In conducting these analyses, the department shall evaluate the feasibility of adding vocational education programs that have been identified by the Department of Economic Opportunity, the Department of Education, or a regional coordinating council as being in undersupply in this state. The department shall periodically reevaluate the vocational education programs in major institutions to determine which of the programs support and provide relevant skills to inmates who could be assigned to a correctional work program that is operated as a Prison Industry Enhancement Program.
(i) Ensure that every inmate who has 2 years or more remaining to serve on his or her sentence at the time that he or she is received at an institution and who lacks basic and functional literacy skills as defined in s. 1004.02 attends not fewer than 150 hours of sequential instruction in a correctional adult basic education program. The basic and functional literacy level of an inmate shall be determined by the average composite test score obtained on a test approved for this purpose by the State Board of Education.
1. Upon completion of the 150 hours of instruction, the inmate shall be retested and, if a composite test score of functional literacy is not attained, the department is authorized to require the inmate to remain in the instructional program.
2. Highest priority of inmate participation shall be focused on youthful offenders and those inmates nearing release from the correctional system.
3. An inmate shall be required to attend the 150 hours of adult basic education instruction unless such inmate:
a. Is serving a life sentence or is under sentence of death.
b. Is specifically exempted for security or health reasons.
c. Is housed at a community correctional center, road prison, work camp, or vocational center.
d. Attains a functional literacy level after attendance in fewer than 150 hours of adult basic education instruction.
e. Is unable to enter such instruction because of insufficient facilities, staff, or classroom capacity.
4. The Department of Corrections shall provide classes to accommodate those inmates assigned to correctional or public work programs after normal working hours. The department shall develop a plan to provide academic and vocational classes on a more frequent basis and at times that accommodate the increasing number of inmates with work assignments, to the extent that resources permit.
5. If an inmate attends and actively participates in the 150 hours of instruction, the Department of Corrections may grant a one-time award of up to 6 additional days of incentive gain-time, which must be credited and applied as provided by law. Active participation means, at a minimum, that the inmate is attentive, responsive, cooperative, and completes assigned work.
(j) Recommend the award of additional incentive gain-time for inmates who receive a high school equivalency diploma or a vocational certificate.
(k) Ensure that all education staff are certified in accordance with the Department of Education standards.
(l) Develop goals and objectives relating to all phases of the correctional education program.
(4) The department may expand the use of job assignment credentialing and industry certifications.
(5) The Correctional Education Program may establish a prison entrepreneurship program and adopt procedures for admitting student inmates. If the department elects to develop the program, it must include at least 180 days of in-prison education. The program curriculum must include a component on developing a business plan, procedures for graduation and certification of successful student inmates, and at least 90 days of transitional and postrelease continuing educational services. Transitional and postrelease continuing educational services may be offered to graduate student inmates on a voluntary basis and are not a requirement for completion of the program. The department shall enter into agreements with public or private colleges or universities, other nonprofit entities, or other authorized providers under s. 1002.45(1)(a)1. to implement the program. The program must be funded with existing resources.
(6) The Correctional Education Program may work in cooperation with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Florida Forestry Service Division, and the Florida Department of Financial Services, Division of State Fire Marshal to develop a program for implementation within state correctional institutions or correctional facilities to train and certify inmates as firefighters. The program should include, but not be limited to, certification of inmates as state forest staff trained to help protect homes, forestland, and natural resources from the effects of wildfires throughout the state.
(7) The department may contract with a district school board, the Florida Virtual School, a charter school authorized to operate under s. 1002.33, or a Florida College System institution to provide education services in the Correctional Education Program. The education services may include any educational, career, or vocational training authorized by the department.
(8) Minors who are adjudicated as adults and who are in the custody or under the supervision of the Department of Corrections may receive and participate in educational services provided within the department without the parental consent of the minors.
(9) Notwithstanding s. 120.81(3), all inmates under 22 years of age who qualify for special educational services and programs pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. ss. 1400 et seq., and who request a due process hearing as provided by that act shall be entitled to such hearing before the Division of Administrative Hearings. Administrative law judges shall not be required to travel to state or private correctional institutions and facilities in order to conduct these hearings.
History.s. 16, ch. 95-325; s. 2, ch. 96-314; s. 18, ch. 97-78; s. 36, ch. 97-93; s. 120, ch. 99-3; s. 1, ch. 99-260; s. 1044, ch. 2002-387; s. 163, ch. 2010-102; s. 42, ch. 2010-117; s. 445, ch. 2011-142; s. 12, ch. 2014-20; s. 1, ch. 2018-104; s. 58, ch. 2019-167; s. 1, ch. 2022-143.