November 30, 2010
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The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) today announced the arrest of James Barry, 41, of Bell, Fla. and Michael Devanie, 44, of Trenton, Florida after a 6 month investigation by the FDLE and the Florida Department of Corrections. Devanie and Barry were correctional officers at Lancaster Correctional Institution in Trenton, Fla.
The charges are a result of an investigation into an incident that occurred May 24, 2010 at Lancaster Correctional Institution during which an inmate collapsed while participating in a prison exercise program. Following the incident, Department of Corrections Secretary Walter McNeil informed the media and promised a full investigation into the matter. Barry and Devanie were placed on administrative leave pending conclusion of the investigation.
The investigation found that Barry and Devanie directed the inmate to do strenuous exercise in the sand in the heat and failed to provide adequate water breaks. The investigation also found that the officers refused the inmate’s request for medical assistance and then after the inmate collapsed, failed to promptly summon medical personnel. Barry directed other inmates who witnessed the incident to provide inaccurate accounts of what transpired to investigators.
“I will not tolerate this unlawful behavior and both individuals are being terminated,” said Department of Corrections Secretary Walt McNeil.
Barry and Devanie turned themselves in to the Gilchrist County Jail. Both were charged with one count of malicious battery, or cruel or inhuman treatment upon an inmate causing great bodily harm, a third-degree felony. Barry was also charged with one count of witness tampering, a second-degree felony.
The Office of the State Attorney, Eighth Judicial Circuit also assisted in the investigation and will prosecute the case.