The following story is a fictional account of planning and preparation leading up to the mythical Democratic-Republican National Convention (DRNC) event in Miami, Florida. The story is loosely based on an amalgamation of real life occurrences in the lead up to the Free Trade Area of the Americas conference in Miami, Florida, in 2003. The names of all the characters in this story are fictional.
In June 2013, the Florida Department of Corrections housed a total of 100,884 inmates in its 55 state prisons (including seven private prisons). Of these inmates, 52.8% were convicted of a violent felony, whereas drug crimes comprised 16.9% of the total prison population. Another 22.1% were serving time for property crimes and 8.2% for “other” classifications. In addition, the State of Florida supervises approximately 146,000 active offenders on community supervision at over 150 probation offices throughout the state (Florida Department of Corrections, 2013).
Miami-Dade County is the largest of Florida’s 67 counties, with a total population of 2,496,435 (Florida Office of Economic & Demographic Research, 2010). Not surprisingly, Miami-Dade also had the highest number of inmates housed in Florida state prisons, 7,906, all of whom were convicted of felonies (Florida Department of Corrections, 2013). In addition, the Miami-Dade County Corrections & Rehabilitation Department houses an average of 7,000 inmates on any given day at five local correctional facilities. These inmates are either awaiting trial (for felonies or misdemeanors) or are serving sentences of 364 days or less for misdemeanor convictions (Miami-Dade.gov, 2013).
Florida’s violent crime rate has been dropping steadily since 1992. In the 20 years spanning form 1992 to 2012, the State of Florida has grown from 13 million inhabitants to 19 million. Despite this huge population growth in the state, the raw numbers of total violent crimes has steadily dropped from the high water mark of 161,789 in the year 1993 to a new low of 93,965 in the year 2012. Not surprisingly, the violent crime rate (crimes per 100,000 people) dropped from a high of 1,200.3 in 1992 to a low water mark of 492.6. By all accounts, the violent crime rate in Florida has made a marked improvement over the past 20 years (FDLE, 2013).
Miami-Dade County has also had a noticeable drop in its crime rate. As a large population area, Miami-Dade’s violent crime rate (673.1) is predictably higher than the state average. In the 1980s, Miami-Dade was besieged by a confluence of multiple social factors that made its violent crime rates skyrocket. The 1980s brought the Arthur McDuffie riot, the Lozano riot, the Luis Alvarez riot, the Mariel boatlift, and the infamous “cocaine cowboy” wild west days and gang wars involving Jamaican, Columbian, Haitian, and Cuban organized crime gangs. It was the confluence of all these factors that led Miami-Dade County to its high water mark in 1990 with a violent crime rate of 1,943.1 per 100,000 population (Florida Disaster Center, 2013). In response to the spiraling crime rates of the 1980s, the State of Florida built new prisons in order to address the “revolving door” as many violent prisoners had to be released due to a lack of beds. In 1980, the entire prison population in Florida was 19,692. By 1992, that number had increased to 47,012 inmates housed in Florida State prisons. That year, two new prisons came on-line: Columbia Correctional Institution in Lake City and Gulf Correctional Institution in Wewahitchka. That same year, the Gainesville and Brooksville Drug Treatment Centers opened to accommodate drug offenders (Florida Department of Corrections, 2013).
In order to handle the high numbers of arrests, more prisons were built and stricter laws were passed, such as the 10-20-Life minimum mandatory sentences for violent gun crimes and the Three Strikes Violent Offenders Act of 1999. By the year 2000, the total inmate population in State of Florida prisons reached 71,233.
As the prison population rose, the crime rate dropped. Even as crime rates dropped, construction of new prisons continued. For example, as late as 2005, a new corrections 1,335 bed facility, Franklin Correctional Institution, opened at a cost of approximately $61 million (Florida Department of Corrections, 2013).
The trend toward building new corrections facilities reversed in 2011, when the state of Florida announced the closing of 6 institutions in order to save up to $30 million (Wikipedia, 2013). This new trend most likely was the result of lower crime rates and a shrinking tax base due to a stagnant economy. The problem was no longer the lack of prison beds. The new problem was that there were too many prisons, and many taxpayers saw the overbuilding of prisons as a waste of tax revenue. It was around this time that private correctional facilities started to take a foothold in Florida.
By 2013, the pendulum had swung; and many peoples’ concerns had shifted to other more pressing issues, such as the high unemployment rate, the disastrous implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and a very stagnant economy that showed very little sign of improvement over the past five years. Violent crime was no longer the salient issue that it had been during the 1980s and peaking in the 1990s.
In Miami-Dade, however, the county jail population was still very high. The trend toward fewer state prisons was not mirrored in this populous Florida county. Indeed, on any given day, the jail population at all five of Miami-Dade County corrections facilities hovered around the capacity of 7,750 beds. Unlike other counties in the less populated areas of the state, having too many beds was a luxury that the Miami-Dade Corrections and Rehabilitation Department (MDCRD) did not have. Every day was a struggle to keep the jail population under the 7,750 bed capacity.
The command staff of MDCRD faced a very real overcrowding issue, while at the same time dealing with a citizenry that was more preoccupied with saving taxpayers’ money and getting people back to work. Clearly, by 2013, the construction of new correctional facilities in Miami-Dade County had no political backing from a very angry public. Given that prisons were being closed all over Florida, and that the citizens of Miami-Dade were preoccupied with more pressing issues, asking for taxpayer money to build new facilities was a very unrealistic prospect. The MDCRD command staff would have to come up with innovative ways to deal with the overcrowding issue.To make matters worse, a lawsuit had been filed in Federal Court on behalf of jail inmates by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). That civil litigation, along with the early reports of an estimated potential for 500 or more arrests at the upcoming Democratic-Republican National Convention (DRNC) in Miami next year, had the MDCRD commanders feeling very apprehensive.
Miami-Dade Corrections & Rehabilitation Department Biennial Strategic Planning Retreat
For the purpose of this assignment, you are playing the role of MDCRD Director Jason Unger. You are meeting with your command staff, which consists of several division chiefs, and bureau majors as part of a two day strategic planning retreat that is conducted by your agency every two years. This small group of 10 commanders comprises your inner circle of most trusted advisors.
Typically, the biennial strategic planning is conducted in three phases. The first phase involves a “visioning” process in which the commanders discuss what they would like to see the department be two years from now and four years from now. Part of the visioning phase of the strategic planning is the review of the strategic plan from two years ago (refer to the previous Vision Statement provided to you as a resource).
The second phase involves a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis of the organization.
The third phase of the strategic planning meeting involves the formulation of a comprehensive six-step “logic model” that outlines stakeholder needs, desired outcomes, inputs, activities, outputs, and goals. Although this logic model phase of the strategic planning is not part of this assignment, a PowerPoint presentation on logic model building has been provided to you for your edification.
This year’s strategic planning process has been interrupted by the upcoming DRNC special event, which is only three months away. The pressing issue facing the command staff has to do with the immediate need for temporary housing of the expected increase of prisoners resulting from the upcoming DRNC. This was not something that had been discussed two years ago during the last strategic planning retreat, but it was now the most pressing issue faced by the department, and it has to be dealt with.
Step 1: Using the information provided to you in the above case study, use the template provided to you to list the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats faced by the MDC&RD in the context of the upcoming DRNC special event.
Step 2: Prepare a memorandum, not to exceed 1200-words, to state your recommendations to the County Manager. The memo must include your recommendations on how to best deal with the aforementioned overcrowding issue at your jails. You must consider both the long term as well as the short term issue imposed by the DRNC event. The report should allude to the SWOT analysis from Step 1.
Please note that the logic model phase of the strategic planning process is not part of this assignment. It is provided to you only as an instructional reference so that you can understand the strategic planning