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Probe Into Inmate Death Leads Fla. Prison To Undergo Personnel Changes

An inmate death at a north Florida prison has led to the transfer of the prison’s warden and the suspension of five correctional officers. The Florida Department of Corrections has handed an investigation into the issue over to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, after claims made that officers may have used, which could have contributed to the inmate death at Union Correctional Institution in Raiford.

And, Department Spokeswoman Ann Howard says preliminary findings show there could be more incidents involving the use of excessive force by correctional officers:

“Use of force is expected. That’s something that’s going to happen in correctional institutions," said Howard. But, we have guidelines and we have protocols for when and how that is used. If you go excessive, that is a problem.”

Howard says the person they’ve chosen to take over the prison is Diane Andrews, who transferred from Madison Correctional Institution where she was the warden:

“Diane is a 30-year veteran over at the department. She actually started her career in Union County, which is home for her. She was there for eight years, before she started to receive promotions and got to move around the state via these promotions," said Howard. "So, we’re very proud of her and we can’t wait to see what she’s going to do over at Union.”

Andrews is replacing Barry Reddish as Union’s warden. Reddish was transferred to Lawtey Correctional Institution, another prison in Raiford. His first day was Friday. The five correctional officers currently under suspension were placed on administrative leave with pay pending the results of the FDLE investigation.

While the department did not release the name of the dead inmate, the Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald is reporting his name as Frank Smith, who served most of a 16-year sentence for carjacking and assault convictions in Miami-Dade County.

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

Sascha Cordner has more than ten years of public radio experience. It includes working at NPR member station WUFT-FM in Gainesville for several years. She's worked in both radio and TV, serving in various capacities as a reporter, producer and anchor. She's also a graduate of the University of Florida with a bachelor's degree in telecommunications. She is the recipient of 15 awards from the Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), and Edward R. Murrow. Her award-winning stories include her coverage on the infamous “Dozier School for Boys” and a feature titled "Male Breast Cancer: Lost in the Sea of Pink." Currently, Sascha serves as the host and producer of local and state news content for the afternoon news program "All Things Considered" at WFSU. Sascha primarily covers criminal justice and social services issues. When she's not reporting, Sascha likes catching up on her favorite TV shows, singing and reading. Follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter:@SaschaCordner.