Charlotte Correctional earns high national marks
SOUTH OF PUNTA GORDA — Charlotte Correctional Institution scored the highest possible marks for a state prison facility during a recent national reaccreditation process that examined the prison from top to bottom.
CCI scored 98.8 percent, which is perfection for a facility that can’t meet grades for housing female or juvenile inmates, or other minute classifications that the Florida prison system simply doesn’t recognize.
Assistant Warden Erich Hummel said CCI was ranked among the highest prison facilities in the state, meeting a checklist of 500 standards that all prisons, whether they are located in Florida or not, must meet in order to gain the reaccreditation.
“I really feel like we’re on top of our game,” Hummel said. “We feel very confident of the job we’re doing.”
Housing 1,400 inmates and employing 400, CCI is classified as a “Level 6” facility, with a range of inmates — from those who are labeled high-risk, to those who have mental health issues or are nonviolent offenders.
Inmates, along with staff, were randomly questioned during the reaccreditation process, which also examined the security, available programs at the prison, and the day-to-day paperwork covering a three-year span.
Derek Snider, a former colonel at the prison who recently was promoted to assistant warden at the South Florida Reception Center in Miami, said CCI always is looking for ways to do “more with less,” like implementing their hydroponic vegetable grow system using donations from the community, and even employees’ own pockets.
Battling both declining funding and the threat of privatization, Snider said it was more important than ever to show the state that CCI is not only self-sufficient, but has grown into a community partner.
Snider said CCI now is paired with groups like the Punta Gorda and Charlotte County chambers of commerce, Parents of Murdered Children and the Center for Abuse and Rape Emergencies, in an effort to show that everything in the community is connected.
“We don’t want Tallahassee to take care of local issues, and at the same time we want to make the taxpayers of Florida and Charlotte County proud,” Snider said. Snider is leaving the prison after 18 years, having risen through the ranks to reach assistant warden, a post he plans to assume by the end of the week.
CCI is recognized as one of the upper-echelon prisons in the state, he said, and he hopes to take many of the cost-saving measures like the hydroponic garden to South Florida with him.
He added that his departure is bittersweet, but he is ready for what lies ahead, as the South Florida Reception Center houses 3,000 inmates.
“I’m ready for the challenge. South Florida isn’t a place you go to if you want to slow down,” he said.
As for CCI, the prison plans to keep on doing what has worked for it so far, and hopes to continue to find ways to save money. Hummel praised the work of the 400 staff members at the prison, saying that it couldn’t be done without their dedication and hard work.
“We feel like we’re on an upswing here in Charlotte,” Hummel said.