Florida lawmakers on the Senate Criminal Justice Committee are preparing legislation to patch some of the holes in the state’s criminal justice system that led to the premature release of two Franklin County inmates. The Florida Department of Corrections, Law Enforcement and the Clerks of Court all agree – one of the major problems with the state’s prisoner release procedure is lack of uniformity.
As promised lawmakers held a committee meeting on inmate release procedures only weeks after Joseph Jenkins and Charles Walker were recaptured at a Panama City hotel, after securing release with bogus documents. Officials from the Department of Corrections told lawmakers not having a standard form for verifying releases make it more likely a mistake would be made. That’s why Sarasota Clerk of Court, Karen Rushing recommended court clerks use a statewide form.
“We’d have this adoption of a statewide form that all clerks would use and all courts – also would not use to acknowledge that a document was actually verified by the court as having been signed and entered,” Rushing said.
Rushing added that an e-verify service could help establish a standardized and secure connection between DOC officials and clerks of court when issuing or receiving a release order. Lawmakers are expected to file legislation on the issue in the coming days.