Rick Patrick: Greene Publishing, Inc.
On Thursday, Jan. 26, members of the Florida House of Representatives Justice Appropriations Sub-committee met with representatives from the Madison Correctional Institution (M.C.I.) This meeting was arranged by District 7 Representative Halsey Beshears, from Monticello. District 7 includes Madison County. Beshears is not on the Justice Appropriations Sub-committee, but he is concerned about the well-being of Correctional Officers, especially in light of the fact that several Correctional Institutions are located within his district. The purpose of this meeting was simple and straightforward. “These Correctional Officers need a raise,” said Beshears.
According to the Florida Department of Corrections, a beginning Trainee Correctional Officer starts at $28,007 annually. The salary range for a Certified Correctional Officer is $30,808 - $45,034. According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the starting salary for a Sheriff's Deputy in Madison County is $30,900, slightly higher than that of a Certified Correctional Officer and significantly higher than the salary of a Trainee Correctional Officer. Correctional Officers face many of the same types of challenges other law enforcement face; however, they are often not in the public eye the way Police Officers and Sheriff's Deputies are. “My job is to make sure these men and women don't stay in the shadows,” said Beshears.
Beshears is arranging several such meetings in order to give his colleagues in the Florida House the opportunity to see with their own eyes the challenges faced by Correctional Officers on a daily basis. “I wanted to let them see first-hand what these officers do and what they deal with every day,” said Beshears. “It is really hard on them.” Earlier, Beshears arranged a meeting at the Jefferson Correctional Institution in Monticello. Beshears is planning another meeting at the Lafayette Correctional Institution later in February.