The festering troubles in Florida’s prison system have emerged as a problem that won't go away, says the Miami Herald. The FBI and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement have undertaken investigations into incidents in prisons. Legislators are asking what happened to $300 million they say was intended to increase staff and fix leaky roofs. The Senate is moving a bill to shift oversight of prisons from the governor's control to an independent panel. The Herald investigates how the prison system became dysfunctional.
One episode from the recent past: Two DVDs depicted deplorable conditions: uninhabitable dorms, inmate-on-staff assaults and roofs that were so porous that prison staff rigged sheets of cardboard to serve as makeshift gutters. Gov. Rick Scott ordered prisons chief Michael Crews not to show them to legislators. (Crews did it anyway). The governor's budget staff downsized Crews' request for inmate food and for more staff. Now, after a series of reports in the Herald about suspicious inmate deaths and claims by whistleblowers that the prison system's chief inspector general sabotaged investigations, the governor and his new corrections secretary, Julie Jones, are asking the Legislature for $16.5 million to hire more staff and $15 million to repair roofs, vehicles and buildings. Jones is now using many of Crews' pictures to make the case.