Florida Department of Corrections

Florida Department of Correction's website

A recent inmate death at a North Florida Correctional facility has some calling for federal officials to step in and address what they call a “culture of inmate abuse” within the Florida prison system.

Latandra Ellington was an inmate at Lowell Correctional Institution in Ocala, serving about two years in prison for fraud. Weeks ago, Tallahassee Attorney Darryl Parks says the 36-year-old sent two letters to her aunt, saying she felt threatened by guards. So, he says Ellington’s aunt called the facility and left a message.

Florida Channel

Governor Rick Scott is weighing in on the troubles surrounding the state’s prison system. The Florida Department of Corrections has been in the news lately for prison firings, allegations of inmate abuse, and the latest: threatening to cancel their contract with private inmate health care provider.

During a recent stop in Jacksonville, Scott told reporters he’s aware of the problems in the system and he says Corrections’ Secretary Mike Crews is taking care of it.

Sascha Cordner / WFSU-FM

Quincy Police Chief Walt McNeil’s last day is slated for Friday, after handing in his resignation letter over the Summer. While he may be weighing a bid for Leon County Sheriff, he may also be holding out for a return to head the state’s prison system.

Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Mike Crews is slated to end his statewide tour next week of state correctional facilities in the wake of a series of suspicious inmate deaths under the agency’s care. It comes as six correctional employees in the panhandle were fired and arrested Wednesday for beating an inmate.

While he doesn't have a specific date, Crews’ last and 49th correctional facility to visit will be Gadsden County Re-entry Center.

MGN Online

The unnatural death of a mentally ill inmate two years ago has spurred the Florida Department of Corrections to enact a series of reforms. But, some mental health advocates say it’s not enough. Now, the group Disability Rights Florida is suing the prison agency on behalf of other mentally ill inmates housed within the same correctional facility the inmate died in.

Local 10 News Screenshot

The head of the Florida Department of Corrections says his agency is implementing several reforms to overhaul the system that houses more than 100,000 inmates. It’s the latest after the DOC came under fire for its handling of inmate deaths—particularly mentally ill prisoners.

The main impetus behind the changes is the death of mentally ill inmate Darren Rainey, and the department’s handling of the investigation into his death at Dade Correctional Institution.

Miami Herald's youtube

Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Mike Crews has suspended the warden of a South Florida prison where an inmate died in a scalding shower a couple years ago. It’s the latest in a series of inmate abuse-related death allegations surrounding the department lately.

prison cells
Thomas Hawke via Flickr

Human rights and faith-based groups are asking the federal government to investigate how Florida treats mentally ill prisoners. The groups say no one is being held accountable for a man’s gruesome death two years ago.

Florida Channel

Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Mike Crews is a bit troubled by some of the overall prison stats, and he's alarmed by some of the African American numbers as well.

Florida has the third largest prison system in the country, housing about 101,000 inmates. Of those, about 48 percent are black.  

That's just some of the stats Crews mentioned at the recent 29th Annual National Conference on Preventing Crime in the Black Community, which took place in Jacksonville.

MGN Online

In the last several days, a number of bills aimed at helping Florida’s criminal justice and juvenile justice systems have passed in either chamber of the state Legislature. They range from a measure to prevent inmate escapes to another that aims to revamp the juvenile justice system.

Bill Addressing Inmate Escapes

Making sure prison release orders are properly verified is the goal of bill authored by Sen. Greg Evers (R-Baker) in his capacity as chair of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee.

MGN Online

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is continuing to investigate how two inmates got shot at a north central Florida prison over the weekend.

On Saturday, Columbia Correctional officers initially reported two inmates had been stabbed. That’s according to a news release by the Columbia County Sheriff’s office. Later, when deputies arrived at the prison, they realized the inmates had been shot, not stabbed. And, Florida Department of Law Enforcement Spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger says that’s in line with her agency’s investigation of the matter so far.

MGN Online

A slew of measures passed the Senate Judiciary Committee with some now heading for floor votes. That includes the so-called "revenge porn" ban and a bill aiming to address the state's inmate escapes.

"Revenge Porn" Ban

Florida is one step closer to joining New Jersey and California on the list of states with their own so-called “revenge porn” bans on the books.

Altamonte Springs Republican Senator David Simmons says his bill deals with a crime directed mainly at women.

Sascha Cordner / WFSU-FM

Procedural changes are in store for Florida’s criminal justice system. State lawmakers must address the escapes of several felons who used forged court documents to secure their release. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is also reviewing its crime lab operations, after the recent arrest of a former chemist suspected of tampering with drug evidence in multiple cases.

MGN Online

As Governor Rick Scott continues to tout Florida’s lowered crime rate, some question why he’s putting more money into the criminal justice budget.  It comes as the Florida Department of Corrections prepares for a projected increase in the state’s inmate population.

According to the latest Criminal Justice Estimating Conference, the state’s prison population is expected to soon rise, even though Florida is at a 42-year crime low.

Florida Channel

A panel of Florida lawmakers moved several bills forward Wednesday attempting to address certain hot-button issues within the state’s criminal justice system from juvenile sentencing to unintended consequences of firing a warning shot. They also confirmed the appointment of Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Mike Crews, who also gave Senators an update on the prison system.

DOC Secretary Talks Budget Deficit, Prison Health Care Privatization

Florida Channel

Florida lawmakers are reconsidering a failed legislative effort last year aimed at reducing the chances of former inmates coming back into the state’s prison system. But, while most consider getting ex-inmates on the path to getting a job and a house a good thing, others say some parts of the bill need more work.

Identification Cards

Florida Channel

A group of Florida senators unanimously passed a bill Monday that aims to make life easier for ex-inmates upon their release from prison.

Upon their release from prison, Altamonte Springs Republican Senator David Simmons says it’s difficult for many inmates to get an ID card.  And, he says making it easier would lower recidivism. Under his bill, Florida-born inmates can get an ID card as well as a copy of their birth certificate upon their release.

Palm Beach County Clerk and Comptroller's Office

Corrections, Law Enforcement and Clerks of Courts officials hopped between different legislative panels earlier this month, explaining to lawmakers how two inmates were able to walk free using forged release orders and how that practice might be stopped from happening in the future.

Flickr Creative Commons

New details about the October escapes of two inmates locked up at a Franklin County prison suggest investigators are dealing with an organized criminal operation and investigators say more arrests are imminent.

Officials from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Department of Corrections and Clerks of Court confirm the forged documents that convicts Joseph Jenkins and Charles Walker used to escape were manufactured within the prison’s walls. But, FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey explained that there’s no indication the inmates had help from corrections staff.

Flickr Creative Commons

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.

The Florida Department of Corrections is hoping for money to help released inmates re-enter society, as well as fund hundreds of new positions within the state’s prison system.

The department’s Budget Director Mark Tallent projects the nation’s third-largest prison system will need about $32.4 million to fund the 328 new positions needed to account for an increase in inmates in future years.

Escaped Prisoners Prompt Widening Inquiry

Oct 25, 2013
R.Benk / WFSU-News

A week after two Florida convicts were recaptured after escaping using bogus release documents, authorities still are unsure exactly how or with whom the inmates coordinated their short-lived escape attempts. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is scrambling to ensure more prisoners aren’t on the loose.

Joseph Jenkins and Charles Walker strolled out of the same Franklin Correctional Facility 12 days apart after prison officials received forged release papers. They were recaptured at a Panama City hotel Saturday evening.

Florida Department of Corrections

Florida law enforcement officials now confirm the prison escape of two inmates who used forged documents isn’t an isolated incident. A records review shows a recent escape from a prison in Franklin County is at least the seventh of its kind in just the last four years. 

Bay County Sheriff's Office

Following the recapture of two Florida inmates who used forged documents to escape prison, the Florida Senate has scheduled a hearing for next month to make sure such a jailbreak is harder to achieve.

Fleming Island Republican Senator Rob Bradley says he wants to conduct a thorough review of what allowed convicted murderers Joseph Jenkins and Charles Walker to walk out of prison. Bradley is the head of a Senate Budget committee that looks at criminal justice issues.

Florida Channel

Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, sentencing reforms, and re-entry programs for inmates are just a few areas on the agenda for the Legislature’s criminal justice committees during the upcoming Legislative session.

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