If Changes Are Made To Florida's Prison Visitation Rules, Could Legal Action Be Taken?

Apr 6, 2018

Credit Florida Department of Corrections Facebook

Despite a two hour public hearing held earlier this week to limit visitation hours, the Florida Department of Corrections intends to keep normal visitation hours this weekend at all its correctional facilities. The rule change—originally scheduled to take effect Saturday—would have limited visitation to correctional facilities to essentially two per month for a minimum of two hours. And, that may have depended on the inmate’s number within the prison system. Today, you can visit every Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

About a 100 people trekked to Tallahassee for the two-hour hearing to voice their opposition to the proposed rule change. They included Forgotten Majority’s Judy Thompson who spoke with Sascha Cordner.

Interview highlights:

  • Citing Florida Department of Corrections figures, Thompson says she disagrees with the agency's assessment that visitation rules must change, in part, because it's visitors bringing contraband into correctional facilities.
  • Thompson talks reasons why this issue is important to her: she has a son who is in prison and she knows a lot of people who have husbands that are incarcerated and have life sentences.
  • Thompson discusses what she feels video visitation could do to not only to the families, but the prison system as a whole.
  • Thompson says moving forward, she hopes families will have a seat at the table in putting future rules together.

For now, changing the visitation rule is on hold. Thompson says she acknowledges that prison officials kept their word in ensuring visitors would not be turned away this weekend, since many institutions were already set up to start implementing the new rules.

Florida Department of Corrections spokeswoman Michelle Glady says currently, her agency is weighing everything from Tuesday’s testimony and e-mails they’re getting. Glady says there will also likely be another hearing. Thompson says she intends to go to that.

But, should the prison agency go ahead with implementing the proposed rule, Thompson says there may be a boycott or a lawsuit filed, at some point. Glady says if there is a rule change, corrections officials intend to re-evaluate it again in three months.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter: @SaschaCordner.