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Agreement Between Florida DOC and DOT Steals 1,000 Freeworld Jobs

With an economic malaise still affecting the nation, millions of people are looking for work. Florida is among the states that have seen job losses over the past four years, and ex-cons are especially hard-pressed to find employment upon release. Rather than offering more jobs to people in the community, however, last year the Florida legislature appropriated $19,146,000 “to fund a contractual agreement” between the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Department of Corrections (FDOC) “for the use of inmate labor for maintenance” duties.

Prisoners who are assigned to work under the supervision of the DOT are referred to in the agreement as “supplemental support labor.” They may work in or around DOT facilities and “within DOT crews on a ratio no greater than two prisoners to one DOT employee,” except in unusual or emergency situations, when the ratio may be four-to-one.
Some DOT crews may be supervised by FDOC guards.

The Master Agreement between the DOT and the FDOC, dated June 14, 2011, lists 94 job activities that prisoners may perform. Those jobs are ones that would be expected of an agency charged with maintaining roadways and their adjacent areas, and do not involve highly skilled work.

The DOT is to supply all tools, equipment and personal items necessary, appropriate or required to perform the work, and provide for storage of such items. The FDOC must supply clothing, safety vests, food and drinks for the prisoner laborers. To the extent possible, the FDOC is to provide the same prisoners day-to-day “in order to maximize the effectiveness of previous training.”

The benefit this agreement brings to taxpayers is questionable. While unemployed citizens and newly-released convicts struggle to find even minimum-wage jobs, the DOT pays the FDOC $10.45 per man hour for prisoner slave labor. The prisoners receive no pay or opportunity for employment with the DOT upon their release.

A breakdown reveals that the agreement provides for more than 1.8 million man hours of prisoner labor. Based on a 40-hour work week, the same $19 million appropriation by the legislature to fund prisoner labor squads for the DOT could provide around 1,000 freeworld citizens with jobs for a year. The Master Agreement between the FDOC and the DOT is available on PLN’s website.

Source: Master Agreement between State of Florida DOT and State of Florida DOC for Fiscal Year 2011-2012

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