Warning that inmate health and safety is at risk at Florida’s largest privately run women’s prison, Rep. David Richardson on Thursday asked Gov. Rick Scott to use his emergency powers to replace the top officers and take state control of Gadsden Correctional Facility, reports the Tampa Bay Times. In a letter, the Miami Beach Democrat asked Scott “to direct the Florida Department of Corrections to install a temporary warden, chief of security, and other resources you deem necessary to restore order and reverse what I can only describe as a loss of institutional control.”
Richardson has been on a one-man mission to force change in Florida’s troubled prison system. After several surprise inspections in the last month with investigators from the Department of Corrections and the state’s Office of Chief Inspector General, he concluded the Gadsden prison faces “significant inmate health and safety concerns” and management has repeatedly retaliated “against inmates for discussing matters with me.” Gadsden is a medium-security prison that houses 1,544 female inmates and is one of the seven privately facilities in the state. It is managed by Management Training Corp. of Centerville, Utah. Scott, whose staff was briefed by Richardson on Wednesday about his concerns, said he had not seen the letter and would not comment.