Florida's Coddled Prison Guards

Time Magazine examines the Florida prison system, particularly in the wake of the acquittal of 13 juvenile boot camp guards last week.

In another Florida case, a 36 year old was stomped to death by guards in his cell. The guards were acquitted despite their boot prints being found all over the inmate's back.

Both verdicts were vivid reminders of what critics call the rot of Florida's corrections culture...While no one is asking Florida to coddle its prisoners, adult or juvenile, many fear it has yet to break its dark habit of coddling abusive guards and other officials watching over those prisoners.

Below are some examples of the prisoner abuses that have come to light through filed lawsuits:

The state is facing lawsuits alleging that its prisons subject too many inmates, including the mentally ill, to a prisoner "warehousing" culture of unlawfully extreme isolation and deprivation, usually with little or no rehabilitation efforts to prevent recidivism.

Other suits decry what one calls excessive as well as "malicious and sadistic" use of pepper spray and other chemicals to keep mentally ill prisoners under control. In many cases the sprays have burned off inmates' skin, according to the suit.

Florida has the third largest prison population in the nation -- 92,000.

It's time for a different strategy. It's called rehabilitation and preventing recidvism.

Over the past two decades, Florida has in many ways led a national get-tough-on-crime wave that has reduced some crime rates but has also given the U.S. the world's highest incarceration rate. Bush had championed the often rough boot camps for juvenile delinquents; but after Anderson's death, Florida's conservative legislature voted to abolish them.

And it's beginning to listen to McDonough's argument that lowering recidivism will save the state the hundreds of millions of dollars it's spending these days on new prisons.

It's way past time to get past being tough on crime and begin being smart on crime. Florida isn't the only state in prison crisis mode. Check out this New York Times article today about Connecticut, which I'll be writing about shortly. And of course, there's California.

America. Prison nation.

< Va. Man Seeks Stay of Execution Set for Tonight | CT. Prisons Overflowing, Intervention Needed >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    The solution is the same for all prisons (none / 0) (#1)
    by lilybart on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 10:35:22 AM EST
    Let out the non-violent drug offenders, especially all the marijuana related "crimes."

    Voila! No more overcrowding.

    take away overcrowding, (none / 0) (#2)
    by cpinva on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 10:53:10 AM EST
    and you take away a money making machine. don't bet on the guard's union, among others, letting this deep-pocket source of revenue go without a fight.

    Are these "boot camps" run by the state (none / 0) (#3)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 02:13:14 PM EST
    or are they private?

    it's difficult to tell (none / 0) (#4)
    by cpinva on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 03:24:39 PM EST
    from the article. the impression i get is that these are state corrections dept. employees, and the camps are owned and operated by the state.

    Don't Forget Texas (none / 0) (#5)
    by Peabody on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 03:28:09 PM EST
    Texas has the worst prison system in the US. Parole is nearly impossible and prison population has grown nearly 1/3 in just 5 years. They can't staff the prisons they have and they want to build more.

    immigrant labor! (none / 0) (#6)
    by Jen M on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 04:14:47 PM EST