Franklin Correctional Institution

Gov. Rick Scott ordered changes at the Department of Corrections last Friday to address prison beatings and corruption after the Legislature went home without doing the same.

The Legislature was working on bills to address problems after a series of reports detailed deaths, cover-ups and corruption in the prison system. But the bills died when the Florida House went home three days early over a budget impasse and a dispute with the Senate over health care coverage for the poor.

Judge Tosses Out Prison Whistleblower Case

Mar 5, 2015
Florida Department of Corrections

  A federal judge Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit filed by five Department of Corrections investigators who claimed they were retaliated against for exposing a cover-up involving the death of an inmate at a Panhandle prison in 2010.

Florida prison officials said Friday that they're hiring an ombudsman to oversee the treatment of mentally ill inmates in the wake of widespread abuse allegations and cover-ups.

Between 15 and 20 percent of Florida's 100,000 prisoners have been diagnosed with a mental health condition that requires treatment. The ombudsman will work with about 1,000 inmates with severe mental illness who are admitted to inpatient units. Secretary Mike Crews said the agency also is beefing up crisis intervention training to help guards working with mentally ill prisoners.

Florida Inspectors General Office

A widening scandal focusing on the treatment of Florida prison inmates includes new allegations that Gov. Rick Scott's own top watchdog was warned about the possible cover-up of two suspicious prison deaths but did not do anything.

The Miami Herald reported Friday that the governor's chief inspector general received an anonymous letter in Oct. 2012 that included details about prisoners who had died while in state custody.

The discovery of three more inmate bodies in prisons over the recent holiday weekend brings the total of suspicious in-custody deaths under investigation to 10, The Miami Herald reports. Florida Department of Law Enforcement is handling nine of them, and the FBI is looking into the other one, the Herald confirmed.

It took five letters, including one from a law firm, for Miami Herald reporter Julie K. Brown to gain an interview with an inmate who has crucial inside information on the death of a mentally ill inmate at Dade Correctional Institution two years ago.

Convicted killer Mark Joiner, now at a state prison in Lake City, told Brown that DCI guards routinely tortured and even killed inmates, then bragged about it. They also bragged that nothing would happen to them, he said.