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Rick Scott, Governor
Florida Department of Corrections, Secretary Julie L. Jones

Florida Department of Corrections
Julie L. Jones, Secretary

Time Well Served: A Century of Corrections
(Continued, 1950-1969)

Woman Working with Numbers

In the early '50s women prisoners still resided at Raiford. In 1956 the state completed a prison for women at Lowell. Big Pine Key, Copeland and Loxahatchee Road Prisons and the Gainesville Work Camp were among the other institutions established at that time.

Until 1957, responsibility for corrections in Florida had been divided among three state agencies: Agriculture, State Institutions and the State Road Department. The laws related to administrating the penal system had last been codified in 1899, and over half the original sections remained unchanged. Therefore, lawmakers adopted a new Correctional Code, which provided for the Division of Corrections, under the control of state institutions. Avon Park Correctional Institution opened and C.O. Culver was appointed the first director of the Division of Corrections.

By this time, lawmakers believed that prisons could provide useful opportunities for preparing people to return to society as law-abiding citizens. The system emphasized rehabilitation and self-improvement. Inmates were expected to make good use of their time, accept that they made mistakes in their lives, and take academic and vocational courses to raise their earning potential after release.

In the late Fifties, the use of sweatboxes ended. Florida State Prison Work Camp was established. The state also saw the addition of a male unit at Florida CI, Apalachee CI West Unit, Marion CI and Caryville Work Camp.

What is now known as Florida State Prison was constructed with a new execution chamber in 1961. It was designed as a maximum-security prison to house adult male inmates at all custody levels and remains the same today. This facility became known as Florida State Prison and "The Rock" was named Union Correctional Institution.

Extra money creates extra problems in prison, so in the early Sixties Florida established prison canteens. The canteens helped to use up extra money in inmate pockets. They also provided visitors with refreshments. By the Seventies canteen sales reached more than $1 million per year. Canteens are still in use today.

In 1963, a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision put Florida's prison system on the map. Fifty-one-year-old drifter Clarence Gideon was arrested, charged, and convicted of breaking and entering a pool hall. Gideon, without the assistance or benefit of counsel, was then sentenced to prison. He appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, and in a far-reaching decision the court guaranteed those charged with a felony the right to an attorney, whether they could afford one or not. As a result of that ruling, Florida established a statewide public defender system.

Gideon again appeared before a judge, this time with a court-appointed lawyer, and found himself acquitted. Gidoen's Trumpet, a book published in 1964 by Anthony Lewis, chronicled the decision, and Henry Fonda starred in the television version.

Time magazine listed Gideon vs. Wainwright as one of the ten most important legal events of the Sixties.

Florida continued to make strides in the correctional field, becoming the first state to file for accreditation by the American Correctional Council, in 1968. That year the first state inmate began work release and DeSoto CI opened its doors. In the Seventies more minorities and women began to appear among the ranks of correctional officers.

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