Thursday, May 8, 2008

Hundreds of Job Cuts on the Way at Department of Corrections

The Florida Department of Corrections honored its fallen officers Wednesday morning. The ceremony was a time to remember those who served the community with bravery.

Crowds gathered at the Wakulla County Correctional Institution, to remember the 37 officers who died on the job, in the department's history. But it wasn't too long before talk turned to Florida's looming budget cuts.

A wreath adorned with roses was presented, each rose representing an officer who died in the line of duty. "When we come on duty we face .... the unexpected. Everything that can possibly happen might happen," says 13 year employee, Sergeant Carol Lewis of the Department of Corrections.

"You have to realize that you're working with inmates. A lot of them very violent inmates. If you're not aware of that at all times, you put yourself in jeopardy," says Sergeant Laura McDonald, who has worked for of the Department of Corrections for more than 10 years.

Many say that the threat of violence and knowing people who have been injured or killed helps them to put things into perspective.

"And what's important in life are our friends, our family and our dedication to service to this community," says Walt McNeil, Secretary at the Department of Corrections.

But for some in the Department of Corrections, their dedication and service won't be needed anymore. That's because the Department is facing a $28.8 million cut.

"No matter what the odds, no matter what the circumstances, people working together as a team we will prevail and we will make sure that the citizens of Florida are safe," adds McNeil.

Officials at the Department say, they'll try to achieve that massive cut by eliminating more than 600 jobs statewide. Right now it looks like the biggest chunk will be taken out of the budget for probation's staff, but administrative positions will be cut, as well as education programs. And those cuts will go into effect in July.

Reporter: Roman Lillie

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