Florida Department of Corrections

Sascha Cordner / WFSU-FM

Florida Governor Rick Scott named a new person to head the state’s prison system Monday. Florida Department of Corrections Deputy Secretary Mike Crews has moved up to lead the agency, making him the third chief under Scott in less than two years.

With about 30 years of state corrections and law enforcement experience, Crews says he hopes to bring stability and consistency to the department.

The Florida Department of Corrections is preparing to file an appeal, after a Judge ruled privatizing most of the health care services in Florida’s prisons, illegal. The department says the state would face a massive budget deficit, if it complies with the decision. But, some say the department should stop fighting the ruling because of the thousands of prison health care workers unsure about their jobs.

The Florida Department of Corrections is asking state lawmakers for about $20-million to fund what it says are three of its top priorities for the upcoming Legislative Session. The department's Deputy Secretary Mike Crews made the funding requests to a Senate Budget panel for Criminal and Civil Justice issues Thursday.

Among them is an increase in funding to pay for hundreds of new positions at 12 of the state’s prison facilities.

Updated 5:28 p.m.

The Florida Department of Corrections has announced it is appealing the Judge's ruling. Below is a statement from the department's Deputy Secretary Mike Crews:

****UPDATE: Judge has Ruled. Read Story HERE****

The jobs of about the three-thousand correctional employees’ jobs hang in the balance as a Leon Circuit Judge decides whether the state can privatize its prison health care services. The judge must rule on whether a Legislative Budget panel overstepped its authority by approving the plan, even after several attempts to privatize had been struck down by the courts.

A Leon Circuit Judge is now set to decide on a case regarding the privatization of health care services in Florida’s prison system. The Judge says he expects to make his decision soon to determine whether a legislative budget panel overstepped when it gave the Florida Department of Corrections the go-ahead on the privatization effort.

A legal dispute over the privatization of health care services in Florida’s prisons is far from over. A Leon Circuit Judge says he does not have all the information he needs to make a ruling yet. But, his ultimate decision will not only affect thousands of public employees in jeopardy of losing their jobs, it could also become a precedent in deciding what kind of authority a Florida legislative budget panel has in making future budgetary decisions.

Florida’s prison chief is stepping down from his role as the head of one of the nation’s largest prison systems. While Ken Tucker’s official last day is at the end of December, he bid farewell to the Florida Department of Corrections in a video message Wednesday.

With only about 15 months on the job, Tucker is preparing to leave because he’s approaching a mandatory retirement date. In his farewell video, Tucker says he has mixed feelings.

The Florida Department of Corrections is hoping the Florida Legislature will give them back about $11 million that was taken out of its budget when lawmakers planned to privatize about 30 prisons in South Florida. The department made its legislative budget requests for the next fiscal year Wednesday.

When the Republican-led Florida Legislature aimed to privatize about 30 South Florida prisons, they projected it would provide a 7-percent cost savings. Since the effort failed to get off the ground, the Florida Department of Corrections wants the money to be put back in its budget.

A total of 11 correctional employees who work at Union Correctional Institution have now been suspended. That’s after a further probe into an ongoing investigation over the possible use of excessive force on several inmates, including one who died at the facility.

Just days ago, the Florida Department of Corrections suspended five of its correctional officers working at Union Correctional Institution, including the Assistant Warden Nan Jeffcoat.

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:

About 3,000 employees could soon be out of a job after the Florida Department of Corrections recently received the funds to privatize its inmate health care services. A Legislative budget panel gave millions of dollars to the department to contract with two private companies. But now a state employee union filed a lawsuit Friday to block the move.

Florida could soon be faced with another union lawsuit over plans to privatize inmate health care services. The move comes after a legislative budget panel Wednesday approved a funding request from the Department of Corrections to help the effort move forward.  The union called that illegal, and says it could now cost about 3,000 state employees their jobs.

A legislative budget panel is scheduled to meet Wednesday to discuss whether to approve a request by the Department of Corrections to pay two private prison companies to take over health care services in Florida’s prisons. But, if the request is approved, a state employee union is poised to take the matter to court.

An effort by the state to privatize Florida’s inmate health care services could still be on hold, even after a Leon Circuit Judge recently rejected a motion to reconsider a case that could have blocked the effort.

In early July, Leon Circuit Judge Kevin Carroll had previously dismissed the case because the budget provision that let the state privatize inmate health care services had already expired.

Sascha Cordner

A part of the state budget that would have privatized health care services in Florida’s prisons has expired, but the Department of Corrections is moving forward with the plan saying they have the authority to do so even without the expired provision. It was challenged in the courts before, but, two unions are calling on a trial judge to weigh in again, before thousands of state employees are out of a job.

The head of the state’s prison system is seeking a new job, and he could be leaving as early as October. While Ken Tucker would be the second Florida Department of Corrections chief to leave during Governor Rick Scott’s term so far, he has the Governor’s blessing to do so.

Governor Rick Scott appointed Tucker as the Department of Corrections Secretary at the end of August of last year. Before coming to work at the department, Scott plucked Tucker from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, where he worked for close to 30 years.

Sascha Cordner

Two unions, upset the state is moving ahead with plans to privatize prison health services, are asking a judge to rule on a case he previously dismissed. They say if the judge does not issue a decision soon, they fear 2,800 state employees will be out of a job.

The Department of Corrections is looking into an inmate death that happened over the weekend. That death resulted from an earlier beating at Santa Rosa Correctional Institution, a maximum security prison in north Florida. As Sascha Cordner reports, the case is under investigation by the department’s Inspector General as well as the State Attorney’s Office.

The Department of Corrections is deciding how to proceed after a judge ruled the department must award an electronic monitoring contract to a different vendor. As Sascha Cordner reports, the court’s decision is the result of a dispute between two companies that specialize in tracking offenders through GPS ankle bracelets.

Last month, a union representing Florida’s prison nurses filed a lawsuit to block the privatization of inmate health care services in the Department of Corrections. Now, as Sascha Cordner reports, two labor unions have jumped on the bandwagon, and filed a similar lawsuit of their own.

Pregnant women who are inmates in Florida’s jails have been forced to go through labor and even delivery in handcuffs and shackles.  James Call reports a bill moving through the legislature would prohibit using restraints on most prisoners who are pregnant during labor, delivery and postpartum recovery.

Tampa Representative Betty Reed is the mother of five. Rather than rely on her own experience she said she went and talk to many women about giving birth.

A union that represents thousands of nurses and other health care workers in Florida is suing to stop the privatization of Florida’s prison health care services. Sascha Cordner has more...