Mr. Eric Lane
Mr. Duane Spears
Asst. Regional Director
Mr. Brian Riedl
Mr. Dan Eberlein
Region 2 consists of 18 correctional Institutions including the ‘Iron Triangle’, a cluster of three major prisons that form a razor-wire corridor along State Road 16 north of Starke with a tarnished reputation of abuse and brutality. RonMcAndrew, former warden at Florida State Prison from 1996 to 1998 says, “I ran a straight shop. I had a number of people at Florida State Prison who gave me their heart and soul but I had a nest of rats that you wouldn’t believe – goon squads that fiercely beat inmates and intimidated staff.”
Fast forward fifteen years and up steps Mr. Eric Lane challenged with the residuals of that hard core corruption. His office sits inside the Reception and Medical Center (RMC) at Lake Butler, Florida.
Mr. Lane entered the exacting world of Corrections at age 19 as a correctional officer destined to make a difference. He is well aware of what’s broken, what’s working and what it’s going to take to fix it. Mr. Lane takes onus for his Headship and is set on providing a nurturing, safe environment for inmates and a rewarding work place for staff. With a mantra of being fair, firm and consistent, he’s a man with ethical expectations of his staff – snitching is not frowned upon when it’s the right thing to do! There is no tolerance for degrading name calling and blatant disrespect of inmates by staff. Instead, he is answering the call to action with changes that will transform the Region, changes that are focused on the re-humanization of inmates by equipping them with the tools and opportunity to thrive and grow.
The full-sized mirror at the entry of RMC is a daily reminder to staff that their appearance is expected to be neat and their attitude courteous. Knowing that inmates are returning to society at a rate of about 3,000 a month, Mr. Lane introduces Re-entry concepts the moment an offender enters his gates, he begins with the end in mind.
Region 2 is addressing concerns about the lack of physical presence on the compounds by those in leadership which contributes to prisons doing their own thing their own way with no regard to the regulating policy. And this includes cover ups. But Mr. Lane has purposed to make his presence known on the grounds in order to become better acquainted with his deck-level staff and to stay on top of issues requiring administrative action. Visiting the trenches builds inmate trust which serves to offset a multitude of problematic occurrences.
Here’s a quick peek at some of the changes being implemented:
1. Visit Park: The dress code for visitation is found in ch 33-607.724. However, on occasion, denying a visit based on the fit of the clothing, is arbitrarily made. General rule of thumb is to determine if hands can be placed in pant’s pockets. Red flags wave with women who, through no fault of their own, are more fully endowed. But if you don’t have pockets and you are denied up front, know that you have a right to ask for the Captain or the Lt. in charge who will make that final determination.
2. Inmate property: When an inmate is abruptly taken to confinement, his property is left behind and often pillaged and ransacked by other inmates. Now a tracking procedure is in place to safeguard against these losses. Staff are now held responsible for the safe keeping of the inmate’s property.
3. Everybody eats! Inmates at the end of the chow line will no longer be short changed on food. They will now have the same portions as the first person in line instead of whatever may be left.
4. Airing Dirty Laundry: In addition to getting the laundry cleaner by including a bleach additive, labels will be placed on inmate clothing to make sure they get their same clothing back. This puts a dent in the black market practice of laundry workers getting a pay off for giving certain inmates the better uniforms. THEY JUST GOT BUSTED!
5. Somebody’s listening: Under the direction of Mr. Lane, Morale Committees have been established at Columbia Annex, overseen by Asst. Warden Hendry. Nine (9) inmates from different Dorms serving sentences from 1 year to life have been selected to head these Committees that express offender issues. All eyes are on these Committees and we will keep you abreast of their progress.
Mr. Lane has a stellar plan to expand the cognitive world of offenders by introducing more recreational and social programs to include the arts – the spoken word. Volunteers are heartily welcomed to bring approved educational, religious and social programs into the prisons. Yes, you or your organization or group can play a critical role in developing the potential of an offender and changing his/her life’s direction. Start by contacting the Chaplain of the prison in your area and become part of the solution.
Transforming a culture tinted with fear, mistreatment and cover ups won’t be quick or easy. Rome ruled the world, it wasn’t built in a day and it met with devastating demise. The changes being incorporated in Region 2 stand firmly on the powerful, principled foundation of treating others as you would have them treat you (or yours).
Kudos to Mr. Lane for being concerned enough to listen, brave enough to act and humble enough to be accessible to staff, inmates and families.