Building On Exec. Orders, DOC Chief Jones Talks Own Ideas For Improving Inmate Care

Jul 24, 2015

Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Julie Jones in a recent interview on Florida Channel's Florida Face to Face.
Credit Florida Channel

The Florida Department of Corrections has officially started a new initiative created through an Executive Order to improve inmate treatment. Two correctional facilities will be test cases. And, the head of Florida's prison system says she’s also looking into some other ideas.

Jones says her agency is facing an ongoing negative perception.

“[That] we don’t care about inmates—out of sight, out of mind,” said Jones. “That’s why we don’t have air conditioning. That’s why we don’t have a lot of things that would think would be coddling an inmate.”

But, speaking in a recent Florida Channel interview, Jones says that’s far from the truth.

“Quite frankly, I think we lower healthcare costs, challenge an inmate in a better environment to be a better partner in this rehabilitative process…So, I’m going to look at air conditioning, or geo-thermal or something like that to change up not only the resources that we’re putting in for inmates, but also the working environment for those officers because those officers are right there in those dorms, sweating away at 110 degree heat index with those inmates,” added Jones.

Other ideas range from how much latitude to give an inmate to giving well-behaved inmates the ability to use a tablet for family visitations.

“They can start to do e-mail, they can possibly—this is for the future—do video visitation with their family. Staying connected with your family is huge,” Jones continued. “Also, education courses…so, you can sit in your cell or in your dorm and actually have access to educational material.”

During the recent legislative session, Jones had proposed that same idea of allowing visitations with family and educational materials via the tablet. Her idea also included providing an electronic grievance process for inmates that can’t be intercepted by the department. The troubled prison agency has been plagued by multiple inmate deaths, allegations of abuse by prison guards, and cover ups.

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