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Florida Department of Corrections, Secretary Julie L. Jones

Florida Department of Corrections
Julie L. Jones, Secretary


Media Advisory
October 10, 2014
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Contact: Communications
(850) 488-0420

SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT

Miami Herald Editorial Omits Corrections’ Reforms

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, the Miami Herald referred to the Florida Department of Corrections reforms as “cosmetic changes.” We take this opportunity to set the record straight:

Real Reforms, Really Enacted…

“In just a few months, Crews fired the warden at the prison, cleaned house at other institutions where inmates have died under questionable circumstances, instituted new protocols for punishing wayward corrections workers and launched the website.” (Orlando Weekly, September 9, 2014)

According to the Tampa Bay Times: “The state Department of Corrections appears to be serious about making systemic changes in prisons… These are positive steps toward Department of Corrections Secretary Mike Crews' promise to make the agency and its workers more accountable and transparent… [T]he department should be commended for moving quickly to implement its new disciplinary policy for wayward employees and for opening its records. Both are good starts in an attempt to change a culture that has long operated unchecked by outsiders… Crews should keep it up.” (Editorial, September 22, 2014)

The Reforms…

REFORM: New disciplinary policy to increase accountability

EVIDENCE:  “In August, Crews pledged systemwide reforms, including getting rid of staff who broke the law or department policy. On Friday, 32 officers employed at prisons around the state were fired, including three former guards at Franklin Correctional Institution who were connected with the gassing death of 27-year-old Randall Jordan-Aparo. So far this month, Crews has fired 45 officers around the state for violations ranging from battering inmates to driving with a suspended license.” (Tampa Bay Times, September 22, 2014)

REFORM: Promote transparency and accountability relating to inmate deaths

EVIDENCE:  “The Department of Corrections (DOC) launched a database Tuesday meant to bring some light to inmate deaths. … The inmate mortality website site is ripe with statistics about how many deaths have occurred behind bars — 213 out of an inmate population of more than 100,000 so far this year — since 2000. Viewers can see data specific to each of the state’s prisons, and the information is broken down by gender and cause, including cancer, HIV and homicide. The site also reflects the 87 ‘pending’ investigations into inmate deaths Crews recently referred to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, where the corrections chief spent his career prior to being appointed secretary by Gov. Rick Scott nearly two years ago.” (CBS Miami, September 9, 2014)

REFORM: A Mental Health Ombudsman to enhance the Department efforts in the care and treatment of inmates with severe mental illness.

EVIDENCE: “Florida prison officials are hiring an ombudsman to oversee the treatment of mentally ill inmates in the wake of abuse allegations and cover-ups. Department of Corrections Secretary Mike Crews said Friday that up to 20 percent of the 100,000 Florida inmates have been diagnosed with a mental health condition requiring treatment. The ombudsman will work with about 1,000 inmates with severe mental illness who are admitted to inpatient units.” (Miami Herald/Associated Press, October 3, 2014)

REFORM: Expand crisis training for correctional officers

EVIDENCE: “Secretary Mike Crews said the agency also is beefing up crisis intervention training to help guards working with mentally ill prisoners.” (WUSF/Associated Press, October 6, 2014)

REFORM: Specialized training for inpatient unit staff

EVIDENCE: “The changes include … the creation of specialized training for staff in the prison system’s inpatient units.” (Miami Herald, October 3, 2014)

REFORM: Certification of officers working with mentally ill inmates

EVIDENCE:“The Department of Corrections hopes to have a Corrections Behavioral Health Certification made available in the near future that will certify officers when working with these inmates.” (WTXL-TV, October 3, 2014)

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As Florida's largest state agency, the Department of Corrections employs more than 22,000 members statewide, incarcerates more than 100,000 inmates and supervises nearly 146,000 offenders in the community.

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