NEEDED: BODY CAMS IN FLORIDA PRISONS

In the midst of the current social turbulence and the nauseating pictures of police brutality, we must not forget about those who are incarcerated and have no voice nor are privileged with a cell phone camera to capture the beatings that occur at the hands of nasty correctional officers. If hate and injustices are happening on the outside of the barbed wire they’re happening on the inside also. Prison is a microcosm of society and when local police are caught on camera shooting, killing and choking the life out of Black men in our cities, the same thing is definitely happening inside prisons steeped in southern culture. Inmates can’t escape the hate and once they are beaten, they are given a trumped up charge and hidden away in confinement or immediately transferred. And that’s not news!

On Juneteenth 2020, just 3 days ago, an inmate at Lake Correctional Institution near Orlando succumbed to injuries inflicted by an officer’s use of force. The inmate, who was not named by the Florida Department of Corrections, died at an “area hospital,” the name of which was not disclosed. The officers involved in the incident, who were also not named, were put on administrative leave. https://www.miamiherald.com/news/special-reports/florida-prisons/article243667522.html
With body cams, the truth would be told. Without body cams, it’s anybody’s guess.

Racism and violence are not new, they’re just now being caught on film. A little less than a year ago, an inmate at Lake filmed a serious beat down by several officers on his illegal cell phone. https://www.jacksonville.com/news/20190713/correctional-officers-caught-on-video-beating-inmate-at-florida-prison. Violence at that institution, and others, must be stopped. Body cameras are the best answer and much less expensive than the pending law suits.

Even though there are cameras strategically placed inside the prisons, officers who choose to inflict harm know to do so in blind spots well known to everyone. If only sally ports could talk! And when footage from the specific camera is pulled, too often either the resolution is not clear or the scene of reference was not adequately captured, leaving no clear evidence of any officer assault. The beaten inmate is then escorted to confinement or immediately transferred. That’s enough to send anyone into a state of wild hysteria.

Because Florida prisons house a disproportionate number of Blacks and minorities, due to systemic racism, this population suffers most. All lives matter and body cams would definitely decrease the violence by staff and use of excessive force at the hands of aggressive extraction teams.

This article serves to address officers and staff who come to work with evil intent. It goes without saying that there are great Wardens and caring staff as well, some afraid to speak out. Being a ‘snitch’ is not safe in a prison for staff or inmates. But body cameras would allow for the truth to be shown. Currently, there is no transparency to these internal episodes. Everyone’s life matters because we are all created in the image of the Living God who gave no one permission to exploit their power and exercise their own tainted sense of justice.

We should all be appalled at man’s inhumanity to man. Body cameras will save lives and deter oppressive and racist behavior by officers. It is our responsibility to protect the lives of incarcerated citizens – most of whom will go home. Body cameras are key to protecting against prison atrocities and holding troubled staff accountable. They will play a major role in identifying and eliminating bad apples, the Florida Department of Corrections greatest liability.