The four wings of Florida’s Tomoka Correctional Institution’s E cell block is home to some of the prison’s most menacing inmates. They have arrived there because of administrative and disciplinary problems but, in addition to restricting them to confined, two-man cells, the prison also deprives them of society’s most basic necessities, reports the Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald Tallahassee bureau. In prison after prison over seven months, state Rep. David Richardson reported that toilet paper, toothbrushes, toothpaste, pillows, sheets, shirts and soap were often withheld from inmates, especially those in confinement.
Richardson, who has been on a one-man mission to hold the state’s troubled prison agency accountable, first observed the toilet paper troubles during a visit to Baker Correctional Institution in northern Florida. After finding dozens of inmates without toilet paper, toothbrushes and other supplies, he asked the prison warden to open the storage unit just feet away from the inmate dorms, and deliver hygiene products with him to more than 50 inmates. “It is behavior that is intended to dehumanize them — treating them like an animal,’’ Richardson said. The warden at Baker Correctional “was embarrassed,’’ he said, as they walked from cell to cell delivering the tissue paper rolls. He complained to headquarters and “they were apologetic and put out an all-points bulletin that this was wrong.” Richardson found one inmate so sick he was throwing up, and his roommate had been deprived of his inhaler for more than a month. Another inmate had an “open, weeping wound” that had gone untreated for days. Windows in many of the dorms that have no air conditioning wouldn’t crank open for proper ventilation.