Florida Prison Reform Dead for Now, Will Resume In Summer


A plan to increase oversight of the Florida prison system and impose new penalties on officers who injure inmates died yesterday, another casualty of the hostilities between the feuding Senate and House, the Miami Herald reports. Working solo after the House abruptly adjourned, the Senate unanimously voted to reject a prison reform compromise bill that was passed last week by the House. “They changed it. They dumped it on our doorstep, and we're going to dump it back on theirs,” said Senate President Andy Gardiner. The bill was added to the list of high-profile bills completed by the Senate but sent back to the now-empty House, which abruptly left town Tuesday in protest over an impasse over budget talks and healthcare policy for the uninsured.

Rep. Carlos Trujillo, chairman of the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee, said he was disappointed in the Senate's decision. “It's frustrating,” he said. “They worked really hard and so did we. We'll be back in August and start looking at this again.” Gardiner said he is prepared this summer to assign Senate staff, and the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, to continue the investigations into the troubled agency. “We will put our corrections committee on the road within a couple of weeks, and they'll do their own investigations,” he said. “I can subpoena people. We're not done with that. It's unfortunate that the House did what they did.” Allison DeFoor, chairman of the prison reform advocate, the Project on Accountable Justice at Florida State University, was encouraged by Gardiner's decision.

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