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Florida Prison System Sued Following Information Request About The Coronavirus and Inmates

Two prisoners playing chess behind prison bars
LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS
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In a statement released online, the Southern Poverty Law Center said the Florida Department of Correction’s “lack of transparency prevents the public from fully understanding the conditions inside Florida prisons during the pandemic and effectively advocating for improvements.”

The Florida Department of Corrections is facing a lawsuit for failing to release information on how it’s handling the COVID-19 outbreak in prisons. More than 1,000 Florida inmates have tested positive for the coronavirus, seven have died.

The Southern Poverty Law Center wants to know how the Florida Department of Corrections prepared for the COVID-19 outbreak, and what it’s doing now to prevent the virus from spreading. While some data on that has been released, the Center says it’s too vague.

In late March, the Southern Poverty Law Center sent out two public records requests seeking information about “plans policies and procedures” related to the virus. That includes how the Florida Department of Corrections is screening people, how it’s educating inmates and staff about the coronavirus, and how it’s caring for those who have been exposed or infected by it. After almost two months of not getting that data, The Southern Poverty Law Center argues the Florida Department of Corrections is violating the state’s open-public records law by not replying in a timely way.