FDOC IN VIOLATION OF LEGISLATURE'S MANDATE TO PAY PRISONERS (MELVIN PEREZ). In this writing I want to discuss how Florida Department of Corrections has failed to follow the Legislature's mandate to pay prisoners for work performed. In this article we will examine the statute and what it really means. Florida Statutes 944.09(1) states that "The department has authority to adopt rules pursuant to section statute 120.536(1) and 120.54 to implement its statutory authority. The rules must include rules relating to: (M) payments to prisoners for work performed. Such payments, if any, shall include restrictions on the use of earning, including payment to support of dependents and release reserves. The rules shall provide that no payment shall be made to any prisoner who fails to perform the work assigned satisfactorily. A review of this statute shows that the Legislature gave FDOC a clear mandate to pay prisoners for work performed because it used the word must. When the statute uses the word "must" it is clear and unambiguous. Furthermore, the Florida Supreme Court has " repeatedly held that the plain meaning of statutory language is the first consideration of statutory construction" See: Stoletz v. State, 875 So.2d 572, 575(2004). Sometimes it is the final one. "When the language of the statute is clear and unambiguous and conveys a clear and definite meaning, there is no occasion for resorting to the rules of statutory interpretation and construction the statute must be given its plain and obvious meaning." See: A.R. Douglass, Inc. v McRainey, 102 Fla. 1141, 137 So.157, 159(Fla. 1931). The above when considered as a whole, it means that FDOC must create rules that pertain to payments to prisoners for work performed. But hold on for a few seconds, because it only gets better. Interestingly, there is another statute that takes it a step further. Florida Statute 946.002(2)(a) states that each prisoner who is engaged in productive work in any state correctional institution, program, or facility under the jurisdiction of the department may receive for work performed such compensation as the department shall determine. Such compensation shall be in accordance with a schedule based on quality and quantity of work performed and skill required for performance, and said compensation shall be credited to the account of the prisoner or prisoner's family. Part (b) states that "Any monetary payments made directly to the prisoner shall be used in whole or in part to satisfy restitution ordered by a court of competent jurisdiction to victims of the criminal act." This statute is talking about any institution not just work release or pride programs. If you do not agree then go back and read Fla. Stat. 946.002(1)(a). But it is pretty clear that when you read both statutes, FDOC has to create rules that pertain to payment for work performed by prisoners. See: Daneri v BCRE Brickell, LLC, 79 So. 3d 91, 94 (Fla. 3d DCA 2012)("When interpreting a statute we interpret its language and the resulting operation of its terms by reading the statute as a whole to give it meaning in its entirety.") Now what I do find interesting is that this area seems to be unchallenged. Chapter 120 Florida Statutes allows free world citizens and prisoners to seek that FDOC pass a rule. YES, you read that right. Anyone can propose rule development. This is done by filing a petition to initiate rulemaking with the Office of the General Counsel, 501 South Calhoun Street, Tallahassee Fl 32399. There is no filing fee to file this petition. Just read Chapter 120. Likewise, there are other ways that this can be challenged. Just research Chapter 86 Florida Statutes, or 42 U.S.C. 1983. If FDOC has a clear mandate to pass rules that pertain to this area, then it is your right and obligation to use every legal remedy to enforce your right. END NOTE. Seek to educate yourself about your rights and how to seek redress when they are violated or not followed accordingly. This is a very vital area since many prisoners will need money to get back on their feet when they are released. This is why the Legislature provided clear mandates for payment of prisoners, because they know that prisoners have families to support and will need this money to get a place to stay or transportation upon their release. Remember that 95 percent of all prisoners, will be released one day. And if they have no money or place to stay, their chance of surviving in the free world is slim. Hopefully, this information can assist concerned citizens to call upon their Legislative Representatives for FDOC to pass rules and file petitions, that will pay prisoners for work performed so they can be able to have a better opportunity upon release and they can provide financial assistance to their family while incarcerated.
Melvin Perez # x11781
Current Release date:10/2031