Although this article says the prisons must still make changes I am a bit concerned if they are going to make these changes and if they do will the changes be the changes we need to protect our inmates? So with that said I must say to Julie Jones:Please protect our inmates.They all have family on the outside and they all are human beings and deserve to be treated as human beings.I realize you took a job that was riddled with to many problems to list but most importantly inmates are dying and suffering horrible abuse and if you’re serious about reform there are things that must change.I know what things must change as my brother is in the Fl.prison system and its not old news that he is trying to change your prison system himself.So in case you don’t know if you want the abuse and killings to stop you must #1 prison reform will happen when prison staff know they will be held liable for their actions. #2 provide audio and visual everywhere an inmate goes so that we don’t have anymore cases of inmates being beat out of view of security cameras. #3you must secure the fuse boxes that control these devices so that no guards/staff members or to be fair,inmates are able to turn these devices off or make them “accidently” malfunctioned as in the case of Darren Rainey.A black,mentally ill inmate who was scalded to death June 23rd 2012.Just so its known My brother and I and all of the supporters we now have will fight for justice for Darren Rainey until those guards are arrested!!! #3 The inmates should be fed more.I say this because all inmates receive the same amount of food regardless of their size so alot of inmates, if not all, are leaving chow hall hungry.Why not go to Publix and other grocery stores and ask for their leftover bread.I know these stores donate alot of food items to almost anyone who ask for them.This is just a sugestion,as its extremely sad to see inmates enter prison weighing 200 lbs(not fat but healthy tall inmates) and be there a couple of years and weigh 140lbs. #4 Something has to be done about the companies who provide medical treatment to our inmates.Its extremely disturbing to hear inmates are dying of cancer and receiving tylenol for pain!#5 This 1 may be hard but if you really want the citizens to beleive you this has to be done.We beleive every guard who works for Fl.Dept.of Corr. should have their records reviewed and if there are multiple complaints of inmate abuse they should be fired and not allowed to work at another Florida prison.I say multiple because I do beleive that some inmates may make some stuff up but if you see 2 or 3 or more complaints those complaints are most likely true and you should not take a chance.#6 All future people who are hired to be a guard at 1 of our Florida prisons should be atleast 23. Right now we have 19 yr old guards, whos brains are not even fully developed,working with inmates.#6 I don’t beleive inmates who are mentally ill should be in prison I beleive they should be in the hospital but since there are so many in prison I beleive inmates who are mentally ill should not be put in solitary confinement.If they become a danger to themselves or others they should be transported to a psychiatric hospital.The use of confinement is being drastically abused to say the least both mentally ill inmates and general population inmates spend way to much time in solitary confinement.#7 I also believe that only specially trained staff should be allowed around mentally ill inmates. #8 The most important. I know if you do this Julie Jones you will have earned a great deal of respect from Florida citizens and from Florida inmates.We need an Independent oversight committee.One that has no members of the Fl. Dept.of Corr. on its committee.I know thats a tough one for you Julie Jones but it would prove to the world you are honest when you say you want transparency.I could write more on things our prison system needs b ut if these things are implemented into our prisons I guarantee you inmate abuse and inmate death will stop.
SEPTEMBER 10, 2015
Improvements made, more needed, prison audit says
The Florida prison system is making “impressive” improvements but still needs more corrections officers, staff training and video cameras, according to a use-of-force audit of the Department of Corrections released Thursday.
The audit of the department, which saw a near doubling of use of force incidents over a recent five-year span, was conducted by the Association of State Corrections Officers at the request of the agency.
The report was commissioned in response to a series of news stories about questionable inmate deaths in the state prison system, as well as the documented spike in the use of force by prison guards, sometimes with deadly consequences. Last year, a record number of inmates died in state custody.
Legislators this year raised questions about how well the agency was implementing its use-of-force policies and questioned whether the agency was capable of “policing itself” in the wake of reports about cover-ups of inmate abuse and the silencing of whistle-blowers within the agency’s Office of Inspector General.
The audit found that DOC policies were not necessarily problematic — they generally conform to accepted practices.
Nor did it take issue with the culture of the prison system. It stated that the current leadership of the Department of Corrections, the third largest system in the nation, has communicated a policy of “zero tolerance” toward abuse of prisoners, as evidenced by a recent series of arrests and dismissals of DOC staff.
Interviews with prison officials, as well observations during on-site visits, led the review team to conclude that “every employee interviewed knew about the mandate form the Central Office to only utilize the least amount of force to gain control of a situation only when other nonphysical intervention methods have failed.”
It noted that a “small number” of employees complained that this approach amounted to “coddling inmates,” and the reviewers urged that these employees be “carefully monitored” by prison officials “to ensure that their negativity doesn’t grow into an informal subculture that becomes pervasive among other employees at the institution.”
Julie Jones, who became secretary of the Department of Corrections a little under a year ago, said she welcomed the recommendations.
“The information provided in this review reflects the department’s ongoing efforts to increase accountability and safety within our institutions and our goal of becoming a national leader in correctional policy,” she said in a statement. “I look forward to implementing the recommendations provided in this review and further improving and strengthening the operations of this department.”
The report suggested there was room for improvement in several areas. It noted that inmates involved in use-of-force incidents sometimes chose not to give a statement, and raised the question of whether this could be because they felt doing so would endanger them all over again.
Although the agency has spent money adding video cameras and replacing analog cameras with digital cameras, the report suggested this was not enough. It noted that 75 percent of the incidents in which officers use force against inmates were unplanned events and many of those events occur “in locations where there is no video or audio coverage.”
It said supplementing the video with audio — recently introduced at Dade Correctional but lacking elsewhere — would give a truer picture of what happened and why to anyone reviewing the footage.
The report noted that staffing shortages continue to cause trouble for the agency. Since the beginning of the year, the DOC has made many new hires, resulting in a net increase of 800 corrections officers, said McKinley Lewis, a DOC spokesman.
But the numbers are still not enough to keep drugs, cellphones, cigarettes and weapons out of the hands of inmates, the report said.
The report noted that while prisoners are not allowed cigarettes, employees can bring one pack into the workplace. It noted that each cigarette in that pack could potentially be sold for $10. The report said contraband cellphones are particularly prevalent at Dade Correctional Institution and that introducing contraband there is as easy as tossing phones or drugs over the perimeter fence at a prescribed time.
Members of the audit team visited Columbia, Dade, Martin, Santa Rosa, Suwannee and Union Correctional Institutions between May and August 2015. The prisons were chosen because they are scattered throughout the state and have a high number of use-of-force incidents.
Other recommendations include:
▪ The DOC should consider reverting to eight-hour shifts for corrections officers instead of the current 12-hour workday.
▪ Healthcare providers should document all medical and mental health assessments and staff should be better trained with how to deal with inmates with medical diagnoses.
▪ Incident reports on each use of force event should be required to include informative details, and vague “boilerplate” language should be prohibited.
Mary Ellen Klas is Tallahassee bureau chief for the Miami Herald. Reach her at meklas@MiamiHerald.com and on Twitter @MaryEllenKlas
USE OF FORCE BY YEAR
Use-of-force incidents in Florida prisons spiked, most noticeably between 2007 to 2012, even as the prison population remained stable.
Source: Florida Department of Corrections
REASONS FORCE WAS USED
A look at the most recent year’s cases:
|Reason||Number of incidents|
|Physical resistance to a lawful command||2,831|
|Quell a disturbance||2,402|
|Prevent property damage||144|
|Restrain for medical treatment||48|
|Mental health restraint||9|
|Prevent escape during transport||3|
Source: Florida Department of Corrections