June 24, 2017

                         Advocating for the just and humane treatment of those who are incarcerated.


FLORIDA HOUSE GUTS SENATE BILL 7020

                   THIS IS YOUR CALL TO ACTION!        call to action 2

SB 7020 passed the Senate unanimously on March 18th but House Bill 7131 has extracted the molars, the teeth that grind.  HB 7131 removes the Florida Corrections Commission, an independent oversight Commission with the authority to enter prisons unannounced when abuse and neglect is reported and before cover ups are put neatly in place.   This HB 7131 painfully extracted the criminal charges for officers who commit criminal acts such as aggressive force, death,  torture, starvation, unwarranted use of chemical agent, medical neglect, etc.  To date, no one has been prosecuted for the gruesome, scalding death of Darren Rainey in 2013 at Dade C. I.  A few are ‘Getting Away With Murder’ as the title of the controversial book, authored by a former psychotherapist at Dade C. I., George Mallinckrodt.

Inmates are human beings and their lives are no less sacred than their caregivers.  No one has the right to pronounce a personal sentence and inflict heinous punishments on those entrusted to their care.  The world now knows that the Klu Klux Klan is alive and operating in our prisons – amoral, hateful folk who terrorize inmates and staff.  Those who purposely inflict pain on another human being and commit violent crimes far worse than the average offender should meet immediate termination and prosecution, as opposed to being moved to another institution to wreak similar havoc.  You don’t move your trash around, you empty it.

Martin Luther King, Jr. once stated, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Lives can be saved and transparency accomplished if we implore our Legislators to pass a strong Bill that provides oversight and holds Corrections staff accountable for their dirty deeds.   Deaths and abuses are escalating in Florida’s prisons.  Since 2000, 3,954 inmates have died in our state prison system and last year was our deadliest ever with 346 deaths. Particularly disturbing is that the numbers keep rising with reports that some died by unusual circumstances.  According to the Department of Corrections website, of the 346 inmate deaths, 140 of them were attributed to HIV, cancer and cardiac or gastro conditions, with another 24 classified as other medical reasons. Three were classified as accidents, three as homicides, seven as suicides, and in 163 cases the cause of death is still pending?

Inmates are not animals, they are not second class citizens, they are real people, with hearts and souls, that have committed an offense for which they are being punished.  Most inmates did not commit a horrific, egregious crime and most of them go home. If aggressive steps are not taken soon, we’ll witness more and more inmates going home early – in body bags.

It will take all of us and everybody we all know to call, write, email and flood the boxes of the key players:
Rep. Carlos Trujillo – Chair, Criminal Justice – (850) 717-5105,  carlos.trujillo@myfloridahouse.gov
417 House Office Building
402 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1300

Rep. Charles McBurney – Chair, Judiciary Comm (850) 717-5016
charles.mcburney@myfloridahouse.gov
412 House Office Building
402 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1300

Rep. Larry Metz – Chair Justice Appropriations Committee – (850)-717-5032, larry.metz@myfloridahouse.gov
222 The Capitol
402 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1300

Rep. Darryl Rouson – Democratic Ranking Member – (850)-717-5070, darryl.rouson@myfloridahouse.gov
212 The Capitol
402 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1300

SAMPLE SCRIPT
“My name is _______. I live in ______and I am very concerned about the failureof the Department of Corrections to control abuse and corruption in our state prison system. People who go to prison should be able to serve their time without being tortured, abused or killed by guards, including people with mental illness.  I am requesting that House Bill 7131 be amended to include the original language of Senate Bill 7020. The House Bill does not include the important measures of Senate Bill 7020 that will lead to true reform of our broken prison system.” 

A lack of action sends a clear message to lawmakers, citizens, the nation and the world that the life of an inmate is expendable – were it not for the stock market.  The thought-provoking statement made by an inmate tasked with the clean-up of Darren Rainey’s skin and blood from the floor of the scalding shower at Dade C. I. reads, “One day, I wonder if people of this state and the nation will look back at this time in DOC as they are currently looking back at the Dozier School for Boys and ask how could this go on?  Law enforcement knew this, representatives in state government were aware of it, yet it just continued.”

We must demand that the House and the Senate come together and replace the Bill’s missing teeth. The chart below shows the comparison of the SB 7020 to HB 7131.  The differences are shocking and disappointing. Which would you prefer if your loved one was isolated in the belly of a Florida prison?

BILL COMPARISONS

Issue                                                                                                    SB 7020   HB 7131

  1. Requires CJEC to project elderly inmate population                        Yes         Yes
  2. Removes exemption for victim injury points for officers who
    commit sexual misconduct                                                                 Yes         Yes
  3. Expands security review committee to include safety issues           Yes         Yes
  4. Allows inmates to receive education gain-time                                  Yes         Yes
  5. Requires Memorandum of Understanding between FDLE
    and DOC to be in writing and for legislative notification                     Yes         Yes
  6. Requires inspector generals who conduct sexual abuse
    investigations to receive specialized training                                     Yes         Yes
  7. Revises method of appointment for DOC Secretary                         Yes         No
  8. Creates the Florida Corrections Commission
    (Independent Oversight Commission)                                                Yes         No
  9. Requires multiple ways for inmates to file grievances and
    requires overview of health-related grievances by CMA                   Yes         No
  10. Requires use-of-force reports to be under oath, allows
    nurses to use identification numbers when completing
     incident reports, limits officers with use-of-force notations
    from working with mentally ill, requires tracking of
    use-of-force reports                                                                              Yes         No
  11. Creates a new felony for employees who withhold water,
    food and other essential services and authorizes employees
     to anonymously report abuse to the inspector general                        Yes         No
  12. Requires DOC to establish policy to protect employees who
    report wrongdoing from retaliation                                                          Yes         No
  13. Requires DOC to track health care costs for elderly inmates               Yes         No
  14. Provides legislative intent to expand veterans dorms and
    requires DOC to track recidivism for veterans who participate
    in programs                                                                                               Yes         No
  15. Recreates the inmate welfare trust fund, caps the fund at
    $5 million and specifies purposes (CS/SB 540 is linked)                        Yes         No
  16. Requires CJSTC to expand the annual training for correctional
    officers to include more information on techniques to avoid
    the use-of-force                                                                                          Yes         No
  17. Increases the frequency of medical surveys conducted a
    the prisons from every 3 years to every 18 months                                  Yes         No
  18. Requires inmate health care contracts to contain damages
    provision                                                                                                      Yes         No
  19. Requires DOC to establish minimum health care standards
    for inmates over 50 years of age                                                                Yes         No
  20. Allows for inmates to have outside medical evaluations
    performed under certain circumstances                                                     Yes         No
  21. Creates a geriatric release program                                                           Yes         No
  22. Requires DOC to establish a policy to track the use of
    chemical agents and requires video recording all
    nonreactionary uses of chemical agent                                                         Yes         No
  23. Provides funding                                                                                            Yes         No

Take a moment to call, email, write and visit your representative.  Post this moral dilemma on Facebook, text it, tweet it, Instagram, Linkedin, Tumblr, Flickr – do whatever it takes to get the word out to lawfully end the unconscionable violence.  And take a moment to tell us about your progress.

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