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Fla. Prison Chief Talks Use-Of-Force, Tasked With Rewriting Inmate Health Care Contracts

Florida Channel

A panel of Senators got a series of updates on Florida’s troubled prison system, including the status of use-of-force incidences within the correctional facilities and the inmate health care.

During her presentation to the Senate Criminal justice Committee, newly named Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Julie Jones detailed some areas she says need improvement.

“We need to increase our oversight, we need to increase the accountability of our vendors, and take a closer look at the contracted behavioral health services that we have at our facilities today,” said Jones.

And, committee Chairman Greg Evers (R-Baker) says after doing some surprise inspections of some correctional facilities recently, he tasked Jones with rewriting the private inmate health care providers’ contracts to setting up a baseline of what inmate health care should be at the institutions. And, Evers has his own ideas about problem areas.

“Friday night, I was at a facility, and I saw something that was very alarming concerning the medical situation that they had sent an inmate to the hospital, and that inmate was returned to that facility because that particular vendor did not think that he needed medical care, even though the medical staff at the hospital had actually sent him,” recalled Evers.

Jones also gave an update to the panel about use-of-force incidents. She says training and correctional officers showing restraint has led to a decrease.

It’s contradictory to a recent candid Miami Herald interview with former DOC Secretary Mike Crews—which some lawmakers brought up. In his remarks, Crews said inmate deaths were on the rise—in part because use-of-force incidences had nearly doubled.

Meanwhile, the Senate panel never took up a wide-ranging proposal to reform the troubled prison system. And, they’re expected to take it up at their next meeting.

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.