November 16, 2018

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


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INMATE VOICE FOCUS GROUPS 2/2013

IV Group 2
Inmate Voice (IV) Focus Groups were established to make Florida’s prisons safe and humane while ensuring that the rights of the inmate are not violated.  These Groups will acknowledge the positives that occur at the institutions as well as the discrepancies.  The first IV Group met in Jacksonville on January 17, 2013 followed by the second Group which met in Jefferson County on January 21, 2013. The institutions represented and discussed at these meetings included Apalachee,  Columbia,  Jefferson,  North West Florida Reception Center and  Suwannee.  Information discussed at Focus Group meetings will be posted and updated  to keep readers informed of conditions and concerns at Florida’s facilities as well as the remedial actions taken.  It was learned at these meetings that several prisons had violations in the areas of  limitations and restrictions on the use of the outside visit park and a broken Disciplinary Referral (DR) procedure.  In addition, the Groups were concerned that there was no procedure in place to notify family members  when their loved one is hospitalized, in critical care or in confinement.  Families may drive many miles across the state to visit only to find that their loved one was placed in confinement the previous day.  It was suggested that inmates sign a release upon entry that will allow the family to be contacted in these situations.  The third IV Focus Group met on Saturday, February 16, 2013 in Altamonte Springs.  If you’d like to be an active member of an IV Focus Group in your area, send an email to correspondence@forgottenmajority.net.

APALACHEE                                             Warden:  Samuel Culpepper   (850) 718-0688
1.  Hazard Conditions
The buildings are in dire need of repair.  Roofs leak when it rains,  ceiling tiles have fallen on inmates.  May be in violation of OSHA standards. Money has not been allocated by the Legislature for repair. Repair costs estimated to range from $150,000 to $200,000.  In the meantime, man nor beast should not be housed there.

2.  Outside Visit Park Restrictions
Outside visit park was once used as a smoking area but is now closed to visitors, even on good days, unless there is an overflow of visitors on the inside.  There is adequate staff on duty on the inside to supervise the outside area also.  Not only is this a violation but it also prevents families from spending time in the sun with their loved one.

Resolutions:
1.  If ACI remains in a state of progressive decadence, this facility should be condemned.
2. Adhere to policy and open outside park to families and loved ones barring any threat to security, safety or good order.
 Reference:  Chapter 33-601.721 (10)  Weather permitting, the outside visiting park shall be available for use by approved visitors at any time during regular visiting hours.

COLUMBIA                                             Warden:  Steven Wellhausen   (386) 754-7600
 1.  Safety Violation
It is reported that cell doors are left unlocked overnight and that some inmates refuse to sleep not knowing if they will be harmed by an intruder.  Also that doors are left open in the locked position during the day when the resident inmate is at work which perpetuates theft.

Resolution:  Hold duty staff accountable for making sure cell doors are locked and secured as required.

JEFFERSON                                            Warden:  Chris Douglas  (850)  342-0500
1. Disciplinary Referral Process
Concerns that DRs are used indiscriminately to intimidate inmates and inflict unwarranted punishment. Concern that it is the officer’s word against the voice of the inmate who has no objective or external advocate and that the inmate’s witnesses are inclined to remain silent for fear of reprisal.

Resolution:  Due to the serious consequences associated with a DR, the current process must be carefully examined by FDOC and replaced by a process that carries the same leverage for the inmate as it does for staff rendering the DR and for those deciding it’s validity.  It was also suggested that the inmate be allowed to contact a family member or friend prior to being sent to confinement.  Oftentimes families travel across the state not knowing that their loved one has been confined.


NORTHWEST FLORIDA RECEPTION CENTER     Warden:  William Churchwell    850-773-6100
1. A-Dorm Has No Heat
Inmates are facing cold nights due to not having heat.  The only saving grace has been the unusually warm weather but frigid nights are nigh.

Action:  The heater has been repaired and the dorm is no longer cold.  Thanks to Colonel Duvall.

2. Lack of Toilet Paper
When toilet paper comes up missing during the distribution to the dorm, inmates go without, some are using newspaper right now among other things.  FDOC policy allows toilet paper to be issued as needed.

Resolutions:  Hold staff accountable and responsible.
1. Repair heater if broken.  If there is no need of repair, hold dorm officer responsible for regulating the heat.
2.  Appoint a staff member to ensure that each inmate in the dorm has their allocation of toilet paper at the time of distribution and is issued toilet paper as needed.

 

SUWANNEE                                              Warden:  Chris Landrum  (386) 963-6201
1. Visit Park Restrictions – Rules With No Relevance
The VP Sergeant has indicated to visitors that he has the right to close the outside visit park at whatever time he chooses.  Visitors are treated like children being required to all face east while sitting at the tables.  However, sitting across from the inmate is an acceptable and understandable safety precaution.

2. Inmate Signing Admissions of Guilt and Recantation
  
Resolutions:
1.  Adhere to FDOC policy concerning the outside visit park.  Emphasize visitation enhancement instead of whimsical visitation restrictions.  These are precious moments to both inmate and loved ones.
 Reference:  Chapter 33-601.721 (10)  Weather permitting, the outside visiting park shall be available for use by approved visitors at any time during regular visiting hours.
2.  Ensure that the camera with audio is present whenever it becomes necessary to have an inmate sign any admission of guilt or a recantation of an original statement.  The camera will capture everyone involved, expose forced admissions and eliminate allegations by inmates of the use of persuasive tactics by guards/officers.