A national commission on safety and abuse in America’s prisons is holding its first hearing this week in Tampa before moving on to three other cities, says the Tampa Tribune. An early witness yesterday was Ron McAndrew, former warden at the Florida State Prison at Starke.
McAndrew told the Tribune that Florida has good employees in the prison system, “but there is also a mentality here, just as I think there is elsewhere, that has been breeding prison abuse for years. It involves close-knit groups that come together and operate like secret societies. They are nothing less than goon squads.” When McAndrew arrived for work, “by the time I slammed my car door and made my way through a half-dozen different doors and gates, everyone in the prison knew I was there. That meant they had time to clean up any messes and hide the evidence. It’s like, when you want to hurt a prisoner, one of the easiest ways to escape detection is a phone book. You could take the Gainesville phone book, fold it in half and give someone a brain concussion and leave no marks.” (The St. Petersburg Times quoted a Florida corrections department spokesman as calling McAndrew’s charges “baseless.”)