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

Florida Department of Corrections
Julie L. Jones, Secretary

For Immediate Release
May 10, 2002
For More Information
Contact: Public Affairs Office
(850) 488-0420

Message from the Secretary

The July 1999 death of Frank Valdez, an inmate on Florida's death row, was a tragedy that tarnished public confidence in the Florida Department of Corrections. This was a shocking act; under no circumstances will I tolerate the abuse of inmates in this department.

There were a number of changes made in the operation of the Florida Department of Corrections immediately following--and prior to--the death of inmate Valdez. These changes assisted in the culmination of a complete and exhaustive investigation; in addition, they help to assure such incidents will not happen again.

The Department of Corrections, in order to negate any appearance of impropriety, immediately recused itself from the investigation of the incident. The department cooperated fully with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), the agency in charge of the investigation.

Following are a few of the operational changes implemented by the department:

  • An agreement with FDLE, implemented five months earlier, brought outside law enforcement immediately to the scene.

  • Institution inspectors, who were previously responsible to wardens, were transferred to the Inspector General's Office in March 1999.

  • A Use of Force Review Unit was established in the Inspector General's Office. Previously, wardens had oversight of use of force actions, with regional directors typically concurring. The Use of Force Unit in the Inspector General's Office brings in third-party review as well as statewide consistency.

  • Began videotaping use of force actions (this had been in planning stages prior to Valdez).

  • Purchased five Computer Voice Stress Analyzer units to increase significantly the use of lie detection by Internal Affairs.

  • Revised the Inspector General investigative process to reflect sustained/not sustained findings.

  • Implemented an investigative reporting and tracking system in the Inspector General's Office to provide the ability to compile and release data on physical abuse complaints.

  • Moved review of inmate grievances to the department's legal division.

  • Instituted shift changes in order to reduce staff stress and burnout.

  • Implemented policy whereby all use of force actions are immediately reported to Emergency Action Center (EAC) and also involve medical review.

  • Installed cameras on confinement wings.

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