DeSantis activates the National Guard to address the shortage of employees in prisons

Florida's governor said the staff shortage threatens the safety of officers, inmates and visitors.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis activated his state's National Guard as of September 9 to provide assistance to corrections and probation officers. The department is authorized to employ more than 20,000, agents, however, the shortage of employees has caused 176 inmate dormitories to temporarily close and 431 supervised workers to be suspended, the governor's office has reported.

The"shortage threatens the safety of officers, inmates and the public," said DeSantis. The legislature's incentive package has already begun to attract highly qualified personnel to fill long-term vacancies; and in the short term, provide relief to National Guard members and help fill gaps,, according to the governor.

The department's primary goal is to"protect society by providing incarceration that supports the intentions of established criminal law," according to the governor's office. In addition, the department is responsible for the care and custody of more than 80,000 inmates who have been convicted of committing crimes.

The activation of the guard will allow for the implementation of reduced overtime for correctional officers as the state continues to fill available positions.

This action was initiated through an executive order and comes after the governor authorized salary increases for recruiting and retaining correctional officers. The incentives have allowed the state to gain 640 new officers since the 2022 legislative session ended this spring. That's a record gain when compared to a loss of more than 465 officers during the same time period last year, the governor's office stated.

Incentives for officers

Recently enacted is the so-called Law Enforcement Recruitment Bonus Program, which provides one-time payments of up to $5,000 for new Florida law enforcement officers and officers relocating to Florida from out-of-state.

According to Just The News, the Florida Law Enforcement Academy´s scholarship program, it covers tuition, fees and up to $1,000 in education expenses for trainees in a basic police recruit training program. Certified officers moving to Florida may also be reimbursed up to $1,000 for equivalency training costs.