For Immediate Release
February 3, 2000
For More Information
Contact: Public Affairs Office
Secretary Moore made the following statement during a press conference today at the Bradford County Courthouse in Starke:
The developments of yesterday and today are the culmination of a seven-month effort by law enforcement to get to the bottom of a tragic and troublesome incident in the history of the Florida prison system.
From day one, when we informed the press and public of Frank Valdez' death, the Department of Corrections has been committed to a full and complete investigation into what happened. I am proud of the many fine professionals throughout the department who assisted in the investigation.
Furthermore, we have cooperated fully with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and other agencies involved in the investigation. I want to thank Commissioner Tim Moore and his agents for their professionalism and dedication to duty during this difficult time for both agencies. I also want to thank State Attorney Rod Smith and his staff for their commitment to this case.
I'd like to repeat something I have been saying all along: that the vast majority of correctional officers who work in Florida's prisons are highly professional and do their jobs well under difficult circumstances. I deeply regret that the Valdez incident has caused some to think that the actions of a few reflect on the department as a whole. We must remember that this was an aberration -- an isolated incident. All of us in the corrections community must keep our chins up as the justice system moves forward in this case.
However, when a correctional officer commits wrongdoing, he or she must face the consequences. We cannot and will not tolerate conduct that gives the impression that we condone the abuse of inmates in our custody. This morning, therefore, the Department of Corrections terminated the four correctional officers arrested yesterday, plus the one who was arrested last year on related charges. They are: