The investigative staff at Florida’s Department of Corrections would face an overhaul, officers who injure inmates could be subject to felonies, and the state would start a pilot project to put body cameras on prison guards under a prison-reform bill unanimously approved Friday by the Florida House, the Miami Herald reports. The proposal is the first part of a bipartisan agreement between the House and Senate to address questions of inmate abuse, allegations of staff cover-ups, and evidence of organizational troubles that have been festering in the state's prison system for years.
The agency and its staff are under investigation by both state and federal law-enforcement agencies. The second piece of the agreement puts oversight of the agency squarely in the lap of the Legislature, which has promised to create a joint committee to police the corrections department. “Our ultimate goal is to bring true reform to the Department of Corrections and true transparency,” said Rep. Carlos Trujillo, who negotiated the compromise with Sen. Greg Evers. “How do we solve, how do we limit the amount of inmates who are dying in custody?” Advocates commended the measure as a good step that was long overdue. “People who are observed perform better than those who are not,” said Allison DeFoor of the Project on Accountable Justice at Florida State University. “That is why we build stadiums.”