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Understaffed State Prisons Cost Counties Millions of Dollars

Taylor Johnston

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Largo, Florida — Florida Crisis of correction Not only are they affecting prisons in remote states, but they are also affecting county prisons here in the Tampa Bay area.

The ABC Action News I-Team has revealed that convicted prisoners often wait several months before being transferred, leading to overcrowding in prisons.

Vans drop new inmates into Pinellas County Prison multiple times a day.

This is the gateway to the criminal justice system, where people charged with crimes are put in jail, detained, or awaiting trial.

However Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri The COVID pandemic says it interrupted the normal process.

“The system stopped. It stopped badly. Nothing worked. It definitely produced a backlog,” Gualtieri said.

The population of county prisons in Florida increased by 12.5 percent in the 12 months to September 30.th..

One of the reasons … After the defendants were tried, convicted and ready to go to state prison, the state had no room for them.

“They couldn’t go because the intake from the Florida Correctional Bureau was stopped,” said Gualtieri.

WFTS

Sheriff Bob Guartieri

Sheriff Gualtieri says months of backlogs have led to overcrowding at his facility. There are already more prisoners there than beds.

He says it can affect the safety of staff and prisoners.

“We have about 200 prisoners who have to be on the floor because we don’t have bed space, so if the house is full, there are hundreds on the floor, and there are hundreds to go to the state prison system. , That’s causing operational problems, “he said.

The state delayed the acceptance of new prisoners due to a serious shortage of personnel, and nearly 30 percent of prison officer positions were not filled.

The number of personnel is very small, and in some facilities, one officer guards up to 250 prisoners alone.

This forced the Florida Corrections Bureau to close prisons, workcamps, and work release centers while consolidating facility staff and prisoners.

“All of this is at the boiling point and the pot is now spilling,” said the brothers of Jimmy Vialdi, the chief of police on behalf of prison officers throughout Florida.

“We have to act now to stop this, or we’ll have a terrible and serious incident in this situation. Hopefully we’re not, but we’re on the road. “Vialdi said.

State Senator Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) states that the backlog also affects the county’s finances.

“It costs about $ 125 a day for prisoners to be held in Pinellas County Jail. It costs about $ 50 a day for them to be held in the prison system, so the taxpayer bears the cost.” “Brandes said.

At an average daily cost of $ 125, the cost of accommodating an additional 100 prisoners is $ 12,500 per day, or $ 4,562,500 per year.

Adam Walzer

Cost of accommodating 100 additional prisoners per day and year

Ricky Dixon, the state’s new DOC secretary, says the Florida county played a role in creating the crisis.

“We’re just training grounds for county prisons and other law enforcement agencies. The state pays to train them, we hire them, and we invest all the money in them. As soon as they graduate from the academy, they go to the local county corrections bureau, “Dixon told the Florida House Criminal Justice Commission.

“You receive my bonus, you receive my training, you leave, and wherever they go, the municipality is ready to repay us for your training.” Said Florida Congressman Dianne Hart (D-Tampa).

“When they apply, if they are qualified, we take them. It’s a kind of free company. It’s a free market,” Gualtieri said. “But we are not poaching. We are not trying to rob them.”

Governor Ron DeSantis recently announced an employment bonus of up to $ 5,000 to prison officers.

The state has also raised its starting salary by 16 percent to $ 38,750.

But that’s not enough to compete with some counties.

The starting salary at Pinellas County Prison is $ 52,000 a year, with a bonus.

“They can get up to $ 5,000 in recruitment bonuses, travel costs can be up to about $ 2,500, and they earn about $ 25,000 a year more than they earn in the state. Let’s do it, “said Gualtieri. Said.

“The solution to this problem is fairly simple. The state will have to compete with these agencies,” Vialdi said.

Meanwhile, counties and states need to come up with short-term solutions.

Gualtieri says the state recently picked up 55 prisoners after he complained.

“We raised an issue with the state, corrections bureau, and governor’s office a few weeks ago. They are very sensitive to this,” we understand. We’re going to make changes, “Gualtieri said. I am saying.

If you have a story that I-Team might need to investigate, please email us at: adam@abcactionnews.com

Understaffed state prisons cost counties millions of dollars

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Article: floridanewstimes.com

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Policy

Coroner Spotlights Domestic Violence, Homelessness, Fentanyl Crises in Annual Report

Taylor Johnston

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More than a third of the 61 people murdered in El Paso County last year were killed during a domestic or family violence situation.

Seven homeless people froze to death on the streets of Colorado Springs last year, and another five died from exposure to the elements from Jan. 1 through May 31 of this year.

And while youth suicides declined dramatically last year, more adolescents as well as adults are unintentionally dying from fentanyl, according to the 2021 El Paso County Coroner’s annual investigative-deaths report, released Tuesday.

“As our population grows, we’d expect to see all categories increase incrementally, but there are areas where we’ve left that trajectory,” said Dr. Leon Kelly, El Paso County coroner and chief medical examiner.

Fentanyl, a prescription pain drug, constitutes a “gross deviation” from predicted increases, Kelly said, largely because the synthetic opioid has wormed its way into many illicit street pills and often is ingested unknowingly.

That’s evidenced by the number of fentanyl-related deaths doubling for each of the past five years, he said.

Last year’s five accidental fentanyl-related deaths among children younger than age 18 surpassed the number of teen suicides last year, which fell from a record-tying high of 15 deaths in 2020 to only four deaths in 2021, statistics show.

“The big tipping point came when fentanyl went from an illegally trafficked drug to being stamped and masked as other medications,” Kelly said. “It’s easily carried, sold to kids in pills, and the cost has gone down because of the massive supply, so the barrier has been broken.”

Across the board, accidental drug-related deaths increased by 22% last year, with 107 methamphetamine deaths and 99 fentanyl deaths. Fentanyl also was found in a quarter of the meth overdoses.

Other trends that emerged from 2021 autopsied deaths:

o El Paso County saw a large increase in total firearms-related fatalities, jumping from 133 in 2020 to 167 last year.

o Homicides increased from 55 in 2020 to 61 in 2021, six of which occurred in a single mass-shooting event at a family gathering on Mother’s Day last year.

o The average age of the 78 people who died while homeless was 49 years old. Deaths of homeless during the first five months of this year are outpacing last year, with 48 deaths through through May 31.

o At least one military veteran or active-duty service member died by suicide every week in El Paso County last year.

o 58 people died in motor vehicle accidents, a decrease from 78 in 2020.

o However, 20 pedestrians and five bicyclists were killed in 2021, compared with 13 pedestrians and seven bicyclists in 2020.

o There were an additional 96 accidental deaths due to falls predominantly among the elderly, with an average age of 78.6 years, which were investigated without autopsy.

o 398 people died of natural causes, with cardiovascular disease as the top reason, causing 170 deaths, and chronic alcoholism attributed to 64 deaths.

The same type of prevention work that El Paso County has poured into reducing teen suicides needs to be deployed to counter the use of fentanyl, Kelly said.

Efforts are underway, he said, with the 4th Judicial District Attorney’s Office convening community leaders and experts to study lessons learned from youth suicide prevention that can be applied in attacking the newest threat to children’s lives.

Success in lessening youth suicides came because representatives from all sectors became part of a concerted push, Kelly said, after El Paso County ranked highest in the state and near the top in the nation for self-inflicted fatalities.

“Every conceivable youth-facing organization, from faith-based, to Inside Out (a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender organization that serves youth), to schools, to parents to law enforcement to mental health professionals identifying what was going on and what they could bring to the table,” Kelly said.

Face It Together, a nonprofit that provides peer coaching for adults with addictions and support for families, has seen “a great need” and an increase in people seeking help with opioid addiction such as fentanyl, said CEO Wendy White.

The organization opened its first Colorado office last April in Colorado Springs and also offers remote services nationwide.

“The power of using peers helps remove the shame and stigma, and breaks down barriers, allowing people to share their situation and add more tools to their toolbox,” White said.

She said she’d like to see a “harm-reduction” approach with test strips provided for drug users to determine the toxicity level of pills they might ingest.

The public now can buy Narcan, an antidote for people overdosing on opioids, at pharmacies without a prescription, said Dr. Eric Stein Bronsky, an emergency medicine physician with Penrose-St. Francis Health Services in Colorado Springs. Emergency medical technicians and police also carry doses, which is easily administered in a nasal spray, he said.

Also, hospitals dispense Narcan when discharging patients who are on pain medication, Bronsky said.

“Not all opiate doses are illegal; a tremendous amount of overdoses come from prescribed medication, and Grandma or Mom or Dad stacking pain medicine, or their body having a harsher response that can send them into respiratory decline,” he said.

Because fentanyl is hidden in pain pills that look like OxyContin or Percocet, for example, and is more potent than other drugs, opiate abuse won’t abate, Bronsky believes, until it’s seen as a health care crisis and not a legal problem.

“They can arrest more dealers, put more people in jail, but until we’re willing to concentrate on what it is — a health care crisis — people won’t be willing to solve it,” he said. “People are willing to solve a health care crisis.”


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Source Here: gazette.com

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Defense Contractor With 200-person Office in Colorado Springs Approves Company Merger

Taylor Johnston

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Vectrus shareholders approved a merger with The Vertex Co. to create the new military powerhouse, V2X, a $3.4 billion revenue company to be based out of northern Virginia, Vectrus announced in a news release Wednesday.

The transaction will give Vertex shareholders nearly two-thirds ownership of the company and Vectrus shareholders one third, creating one of the nation’s 20 largest defense contractors with 14,000 employees in 300 locations worldwide.

“Today’s (Wednesday’s) overwhelming approval marks a significant step toward completing our merger with Vertex, and creating one of the leading providers of critical mission solutions and support to defense clients globally,” Chief Executive Officer of Vectrus Chuck Prow said in the release. “Vectrus and Vertex — together as V2X — will be better positioned to meet the mission-essential needs of our clients while delivering cost efficiencies, increased security and resiliency, with more strategic use of resources.”

The melding of the two companies is likely save about $20 million a year by eliminating duplicated information technology, computer networks along with “some consolidation of people,” as V2X tries to tackles a contract backlog of more than $11 billion reaching into 2027.

Vectrus’ Colorado Springs office of 200 employees that focuses on sales, finance and human resources will stay in place, Vectrus Vice President Michael Smith confirmed.

Vertex also operates an office near the Colorado Springs Airport that supports a contract the company manages at a radar station in Alaska that feeds data to the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).

Summer jobs help area youths earn cash, develop skills

Prow will become CEO, Vectrus Chief Financial Officer Susan Lynch will hold the same post in the combined company and Vectrus board members will hold six of the 11 seats on the combined board, including the chairman’s post. Vertex CEO Ed Boyington will serve on the board and remain with the combined company until retiring after an unspecified transition period.

Vectrus, which specializes in logistics, information technology maintenance and operating military bases, is slightly larger than Vertex.

Vectrus generates about $190 million more in revenue and employs 2,400 more people, mostly at military bases around the world. Vertex specializes in aircraft maintenance, systems engineering and training.

“We thank all of our stakeholders for their continued support and look forward to completing the pending combination so we can begin unlocking the incredible potential of our combined platform,” Prow said.


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Article: gazette.com

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Wildlife Officials Warn of Possible Increase in Bear Encounters This Year

Taylor Johnston

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Colorado Parks and Wildlife is warning the public of the possibility of increased bear encounters this summer and fall because of late season storms that struck Colorado in May.

Bears’ diets depend on what kinds of foods are seasonally available such as grasses, berries, fruits, nuts and plants. These food sources can be disrupted in years that are abnormally dry or when there is a late frost like this year, wildlife officials said.

“We certainly see a correlation between annual failures of natural bear food sources and years with higher human-bear conflict rates,” said Mark Vieira, the state’s carnivore and furbearer program manger. “When natural food sources are scarce, as the smart flexible eaters that bears are, they tend to spend more time near humans.”

Bear encounters last year were down 28% compared to the previous two years. But encounters are expected to rise because of concerns about the late freeze that could limit food sources.

Wildlife officials said a late freeze occurred in May 2017 and led to a high conflict year where 109 bruins were relocated and 190 others were euthanized.

Mountainous and foothill areas from western Douglas County to Larimer County have already reported areas with frost damage to crops, while other forages continue to recover from wildfires, such as the Cameron Peak fire in 2020 — the largest in the state’s history.

“We have such a large fire footprint that the damage is already done as far as worrying about the soft mass production,” Wildlife Officer Shane Craig said. “I’m sure there were pockets of natural forage that survived, but we have already skated on our luck to get us past 2021.”

Wildlife officers are concerned about the number of gamble oak crops that died during the late season freeze. The crop produces acorns that become a vital source of food for bears as they prepare for winter and are in hyperphagia where they consume 20,000 calories a day.

Wildlife officials said nearly all emerging gamble oak crops above 6,800 feet in western Douglas County died in the late season freeze, but chokecherries and plums survived.

“We’ll be okay for the short (term), but in the 7-8 years I’ve been in my district I’ve never seen an oak dieoff like this,” Wildlife Officer Melanie Kaknes said in a news release. “The bears will have to figure out something because they have to put on weight for the winter. This dieoff (is) going to be pushing bears down in elevation and likely into towns.”

In western Jefferson County and eastern Park County, officials are concerned about the status of higher elevation crops.

“It is too early for me to know how things will pan out for the higher elevation stuff,” Wildlife Officer Dawson Swanson said in a news release. “On the good side we are getting some moisture that we desperately need, let’s just hope things did not freeze up high.”

Most adult bears survive year-to-year even if there is poor food availability.

Wildlife officials reminded residents and visitors to be aware of their surroundings and follow proper guidelines on living appropriately with bears.

These guidelines include:

Keep garbage in a well-secured enclosure.Only put out garbage on the morning of pickup; bring empty cans inside before dark.Use a bear-resistant trash can or dumpster. These are available online or from your trash hauler.Clean all garbage cans regularly to keep them odor free. The scent of ammonia can also deter bears.Take down all bird feeders. Bird feeders are a major contributor to bear/human conflicts and resulted in 1,073 conflicts between 2019 and 2021. Don’t leave pet food or stock feed outside.Install and test electric fencing to protect chicken coops, bee hives and livestock enclosuresKeep garage doors and windows closed and locked

For additional information about bears and guidance, click here.


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Original Source: gazette.com

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