Florida Prisons Sued Over Solitary Confinement Practices

May 8, 2019
A view of a hallway from a jail cell.
Matthew Ansley / Unsplash

Florida is an “outlier” in prison systems across the nation when it comes to the use of solitary confinement, according to a 90-page federal lawsuit filed Wednesday that alleges the state Department of Corrections is violating the constitutional rights of inmates.

Courtesy Ryan Torrens Campaign

Ryan Torrens is a candidate for Florida Attorney General running in the primary against Democratic Representative Sean Shaw. Recently, Shaw filed a lawsuit alleging Torrens didn’t properly qualify as a candidate, and violated campaign finance law. Torrens has come to his own defense by releasing a public rebuttal, and has filed a motion to dismiss the case. It is set to be heard on August 22, just six days before the primary election.

Torrens recently sat down with WFSU’s Ryan Dailey to give his side of the story.

A decade long fight over Medicaid has come to a close. Parents and organizations providing healthcare to kids sued the state, saying Florida’s old Medicaid program wasn’t serving kids. Now, they say, Florida has an opportunity to make the system better. 

Tony Levell

An Orlando judge is weighing whether to dismiss a civil lawsuit against Florida A&M University. The family of Robert Champion sued the school after the drum major died following a 2011 hazing ritual.

A federal judge has rejected Governor Rick Scott’s request for mediation in a fight over a program reimbursing hospitals for treating the uninsured. The Scott administration is suing the federal government.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi says Medicaid and the Low Income Pool funds should be separated.
The Florida Channel

Governor Rick Scott is going to Washington D.C. to lobby for the renewal of federal funds that reimburse hospitals for uncompensated care. But at the same time, he’s suing the federal government over the same program.

Gov. Rick Scott is suing the federal government over Low-Income Pool funding.
Governor Rick Scott

Florida is getting support from other states in its lawsuit against the federal government over healthcare funding. There are about nine other states that get supplemental Medicaid funding, called the Low-Income Pool and Texas and Kansas are among them.

A teachers union isn’t backing down from its legal challenges to the state’s largest school choice program.The Florida Education Association has re-filed a lawsuit questioning how lawmakers expanded the so-called school voucher system, and continues moving forward with another lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the overall program.

Press conference
Florida Senate

Update 10:30 a.m. 9/15/14:


A Florida A&M University law professor is suing her employer over what she says is gender discrimination and unequal pay.

Law Professor Jennifer Smith says she’s been repeatedly denied a promotion as retaliation for requesting public records about professor pay. She also alleges the FAMU Law School administrators hire men at rate rates than women and pay them more. Smith, an assistant professor, was granted tenure in 2010 but has been denied a promotion to full professor since then.

Florida Department of Children and Families

A disability-rights organization has filed a federal lawsuit alleging Florida improperly "warehouses" people with mental illnesses in its psychiatric institutions. Disability Rights Florida is calling for the state to be forced to provide treatment services for some mentally ill people within the patients’ communities. 

Ryan Benk / WFSU-FM

A three-judge panel heard arguments Tuesday in a legal dispute between the Florida Department of Corrections and its prison health care workers who fear losing their state jobs. It’s the latest after a lower court ruled the department could only privatize prison health care in one region of the state, but must leave two other regions alone.

Firm Started By Sen. President Gaetz Accused Of Medicare Fraud

May 10, 2013

The U.S. Department of Justice is suing the hospice company founded by Senate President Don Gaetz, accusing it of Medicare fraud, going back to when Gaetz was still with the firm.

The lawsuit, filed May 2 in the U.S. District Court in Kansas City and reported Thursday by The Miami Herald, alleges Vitas Hospice Services and Vitas Healthcare Corp. have misspent millions in taxpayer money collected from Medicare.

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.

Sascha Cordner / WFSU-FM

The Florida Department of Corrections is still engaged in a legal dispute over whether it can privatize the state’s inmate health care services, after a Legislative budget panel gave them permission. But, the unions, who filed the challenge, say it’s not only illegal, it’s unfair to the thousands of public employees who will lose their jobs. A Leon County Circuit Judge heard arguments Monday, and says he won’t rule until he gets more information from all the parties involved.

The family of a student molested at Florida A&M University’s lab school by another student says they will file a lawsuit unless FAMU agrees to a million dollar settlement.  The case follows the conviction of 19-year-old Ralph Monroe II who is currently serving a mandatory life sentence for the crime.

Jessica Palombo / WFSU-FM

The Republican Party of Florida and two lawmakers are asking a judge to throw out a lawsuit against them by former Republican Party Chairman Jim Greer. Greer is charged with fraud and money laundering for allegedly diverting $200,000 from the party, in another case. On Monday a Leon County circuit judge heard arguments for and against dismissing the civil suit.

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.

A South Florida brain injury rehab facility, already being cited for improperly keeping non-brain-injured patients and being investigated for abuse, is now being sued for alleged widespread and intentional fraud. 

Allstate Insurance filed the suit in federal court against the Florida Institute for Neurologic Rehabilitation on Friday.

The suit alleges patients were "warehoused" past their needed treatment while the facility falsified medical records and fraudulently billed Allstate up to $1,000 per patient per day.

Florida A&M University wants to settle a lawsuit stemming from the hazing death of one of the school band’s drum majors. University trustees voted Thursday to direct their attorney’s to enter a mediation session with the attorneys representing the parents of Robert Champion, who died in November after being beaten in a hazing ritual. Lynn Hatter reports FAMU’s attorney says they want the courts to dismiss the lawsuit.  

A mediation session is required before the case against the university can go to a trial.

Former Florida House Speaker Ray Sansom racked up more than 800-thousand dollars in legal fees while defending himself against corruption charges that were eventually dropped. Now, he wants Florida taxpayers to pay him back, but some experts say Sansom may not get what he wants.

law office building
Jessica Palombo / WFSU-FM

The lawyer representing Carletha Cole is also fighting Fla. Gov. Rick Scott’s administration in another lawsuit, this one with himself as the plaintiff. Tallahassee lawyer Steven Andrews is suing for the right to purchase the building that houses his law office. Andrews says Scott and members of the cabinet are trying to buy the building just to spite him. 

The Florida Association of Counties has announced a lawsuit against the state of Florida over $300 million in disputed Medicaid bills. Lynn Hatter reports the counties decided to sue after the state passed a new law requiring them to pay the money.

During the 2012 legislative session, lawmakers crafted a plan that requires counties to pay 85-percent of the disputed claims, or 100-percent of the claims with the option to sue. But Florida Association of Counties spokeswoman Craigin Mosteller says that’s unconstitutional.

A union that represents the state's probation officers is leaving it up to a judge to decide whether it's legal for probation officers to have to cut back on the number of visits they make each month to the homes of parolees. As Sascha Cordner reports, the Teamsters Union claims the move is a danger to the public and could lead to the loss of jobs.

Faced with a $79 million budget deficit, the Florida Department of Corrections is trying to find ways to cut costs.