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FDLE: Two Prison Guards Arrested For Inmate Abuse

Dwight Sims, Jr.
Suwanee County Sheriff's Office

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has arrested two correctional officers for beating an inmate and trying to cover it up. The arrests come as the Department tries to clean up its troubled prison system--which has been plagued by accusations of inmate abuse and neglect.

Christopher Michael Jernigan and Donald Dwight Sims Jr. are charged with aggravated battery and failure to report.

An FDLE investigation found the officers beat an inmate at Columbia Correctional Institution in Lake City in February, then instructed other inmates to dispose of bloody clothes and a mattress.

Witnesses say the inmate, 41-year-old Shrurick Lewis,  was bleeding from his nose and mouth and his eye was swollen.  He was seen by a prison nurse and sent back to his cell.  But several hours later, he was found unconscious by other officers, and taken to Shands Hospital, where he was treated for a broken nose and several facial fractures. 

One of the correctional officers told agents Lewis fell from his bunk while the other said he used force after Lewis lunged at him.

“The Florida Department of Corrections has absolutely no tolerance for the behavior and actions taken by these individuals. Effective today, May 5, 2015, the employment of Correctional Officer Sgt. Christopher Michael Jernigan and Correctional Officer Donald Dwight Sims has been terminated,” said DOC Secretary Julie Jones in a statement announcing the arrests.

“We will continue to take quick and decisive actions against those involved in abuse, neglect or misconduct of any kind and will cooperate fully with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Office of the State Attorney to ensure that any employee engaged in this behavior is held accountable.”

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/special-reports/florida-prisons/article20277567.html#storylink=cpy
Florida’s prison system has been under public scrutiny for a series of suspicious inmate deaths and abuse cases. The Florida legislature had been considering ways to address the problems, but a prison reform bill died once lawmakers abruptly adjourned.

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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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