The Legislature hereby finds and declares that:
(1) Florida spends each year in excess of $60 million for its state correctional system, but Florida citizens have not received a fair return on that investment. Florida correctional institutions have contributed little to the reduction of crime. To the contrary, crime rates continue to rise; recidivism rates are notoriously high; and large prisons have for the most part become schools for crime, making successful reintegration into the community unlikely.
(2) It is clear that major changes in correctional methods are required. It is essential to abate the use of large institutions and continue the development of community-based corrections; to equip judges with more effective evaluative tools to deal with the criminal offender; and to provide alternatives to institutionalization, including the availability of probationers’ residences and community correctional centers.
(3) One of the chief factors contributing to the high recidivism rate in the state is the general inability of ex-offenders to find or keep meaningful employment. Although 90 percent of all offenders sent to prison return to society one day, the correctional system has done little to provide the offender with the vocational skills the offender needs to return to society as a productive citizen. This failure virtually guarantees the probability of return to crime. Vocational training and assistance in job placement must be looked to on a priority basis as an integral part of the process of changing deviant behavior in the institutionalized offender, when such change is determined to be possible.
(4) These changes must not be made out of sympathy for the criminal or out of disregard of the threat of crime to society. They must be made precisely because that threat is too serious to be countered by ineffective methods.
(5) In order to make the correctional system an efficient and effective mechanism, the various agencies involved in the correctional process must coordinate their efforts. Where possible, interagency offices should be physically located within major institutions and should include representatives of the 1Florida State Employment Service, the vocational rehabilitation programs of the Department of Education, and the Parole Commission. Duplicative and unnecessary methods of evaluating offenders must be eliminated and areas of responsibility consolidated in order to more economically utilize present scarce resources. (6) It is the intent of the Legislature:
(a) To provide a mechanism for the early identification, evaluation, and treatment of behavioral disorders of adult offenders coming into contact with the correctional system.
(b) To separate dangerous or repeat offenders from nondangerous offenders, who have potential for rehabilitation, and place dangerous offenders in secure and manageable institutions.
(c) When possible, to divert from expensive institutional commitment those individuals who, by virtue of professional diagnosis and evaluation, can be placed in less costly and more effective environments and programs better suited for their rehabilitation and the protection of society.
(d) To make available to those offenders who are capable of rehabilitation the job training and job placement assistance they need to build meaningful and productive lives when they return to the community.
(e) To provide intensive and meaningful supervision for those on probation so that the condition or situation which caused the person to commit the crime is corrected.