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Fla. mulls lowering correctional officers age requirement

In an effort to help combat high turnover rates, Florida could soon lower the age requirement for COs in state prisons from 19 to 18


By CorrectionsOne Staff

ORLANDO, Fla. — In an effort to help combat high turnover rates, Florida could soon lower the age requirement for correctional officers in state prisons.

WFTV reports that the state wants to lower the minimum CO age requirement from 19 to 18 so the state’s DOC can start recruiting high school graduates. The proposition comes even after the DOC revealed that it sees greater turnover with younger officers.

Some officials have also expressed concern over safety and the financial burden to the state. Rep. Jennifer Mae Sullivan said the state loses when it pays to train the young officers, only for them to leave in a year or two to work in a county jail where they’re paid more. 

“They come, the state trains them, the state doesn’t pay as high and then they go work for a county. So, my fear is if we are creating a recruiting process for recruiting even more young individuals that the turnover is going to become even greater,”  Sullivan said.

But the DOC insisted that the young officers will receive more training than traditional 19-year-old applicants. The 18-year-old recruits would be assigned a mentor for their first year and be restricted from supervising inmates alone.
 
“Eighteen-year olds are fighting in defense of our country, going overseas into harm’s way and serving. They are eligible to serve as firefighters. There are many comparable areas where there's great risk where 18-year-olds serve marvelously,” Rep. Julio Gonzalez said.

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