Inmate Infections, Deaths Soar Amid Pleas For More Help

Aug 14, 2020
prison bars
Emiliano Bar

As the numbers of COVID-19 deaths and infections in prisons soar, workers, inmates and their loved ones continue to plead for help from the state.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday the Florida Department of Corrections, which is part of his administration, will continue to test and isolate symptomatic inmates. But he did not outline any other measures under consideration to prevent infections among inmates and staff members.

At least 11 inmates at a South Florida correctional facility have died of COVID-19-related illnesses, as the death toll in the state prison system continues to climb.

A Florida Department of Health report shows that 11 inmates at the South Florida Reception Center in Miami-Dade County have died from the contagious respiratory disease.

For the first few months of the coronavirus pandemic, correctional officer Kareen "Troy" Troitino says things were "pretty relaxed" at FCI Miami. There were no cases of COVID-19 at the low-security federal prison, which currently houses some 1,000 inmates.

That all changed, he says, early last month. "And then on the week of the Fourth of July, we had one case, and then it just spread in one week. I mean, tremendously. It's like wildfire. And you don't even see the fire because you don't know who has it until it's too late."

Lowell Correctional Institute sign outside facility
Google Maps

The Florida Department of Health on Wednesday said a dozen inmates died from complications of COVID-19 at eight prisons within the past week. 

Dade Correctional Institution, Everglades Correctional Institution, Lowell Correctional Institution and South Florida Reception Center each had two inmates die after testing positive for the disease. Columbia Correctional Institution, Florida Women’s Reception Center, Graceville Correctional Institution and Wakulla Correctional Institution each had an inmate death. 

Surge In Florida Inmate COVID-19 Cases Spurs Calls For Help

Jul 23, 2020
prison bars

Inside a sweltering prison in rural North Florida, the mass testing of hundreds of inmates began nearly two weeks ago on a Saturday, as corrections workers tried to sort and quarantine prisoners with symptoms of COVID-19.

jail bars in a hallway at a prison

The number of Florida corrections workers who have tested positive for COVID-19 surpassed 1,000 on Friday, according to the state Department of Corrections. 

“They are dying in the heat,” said the distraught mother of an inmate at Dade Correctional Institution in Miami. “What have we done to deserve this. … How is it possible, knowing how hot it is here?”

Two More Inmates Die Of COVID-19

Jun 28, 2020

As the number of COVID-19 cases in Florida skyrockets, Department of Corrections officials reported Friday that two more state inmates have died of complications from the novel coronavirus.

The recent deaths bring the toll of inmate fatalities in Florida’s prison system to 23.

100 Coronavirus Cases Reported At Lake County Jail

Jun 19, 2020
All 759 inmates at the Lake County Jail are being tested for the coronavirus, the sheriff's office says.
Lake County Sheriff's Office

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office reports 100 confirmed cases of COVID-19 connected to the county jail in Tavares.

As the virus continues to spread within the state prison system, COVID-19 has caused the deaths of 18 inmates as of Friday.
Florida Department of Corrections

The number of COVID-19 cases among Florida prisoners has surpassed 1,600, state corrections officials reported Friday. 

The inmates who have tested positive for COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus, are concentrated in 13 prisons in various parts of the state. 

With 301 inmate cases, Homestead Correctional Institution has the highest number of cases in the state. Liberty Correctional Institution in Bristol has 212 cases and Hamilton Correctional Institution in Jasper has 205 inmate cases. 

barbed wire prison fence

The number of state inmates who have tested positive for COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, surpassed 1,400 on Tuesday, according to the Florida Department of Corrections.

Prisoners crowding around a table
Florida Department of Corrections

Two inmates at a Northwest Florida prison have tested positive for COVID-19, the Florida Department of Corrections said Sunday.

Florida prisons are seeing an increasing number of inmate deaths that authorities blame on a synthetic marijuana substance known as K2, or spice.

The increase in overdoses has prompted state officials to launch an educational campaign intended to show inmates the dangers of using the substance. The campaign was first reported by WLRN's news partner the Miami Herald.

Florida prison officials say they’re looking to enhance the mental health treatment of inmates—particularly in the Panhandle. But, they need to hire more than 100 employees to meet that goal. Kim Banks is the Chief Financial Officer for the Florida Department of Corrections.

Inmate Re-Entry Facilities Fight Funding Changes

Oct 14, 2016
Inmates have been unable to see their loved ones and family members in person since March 11, when the department first suspended in-person visitation across the state.
Associated Press

Advocates for inmate re-entry facilities said Thursday a Florida Department of Corrections plan to change the way work-release and substance-abuse programs are funded violates state law and may increase rates of recidivism.


Two Florida counties are testing a program to treat incarcerated heroin users.

The family of a man strangled to death by his roommate at Aventura Hospital and Medical Center has filed a wrongful death lawsuit, the Miami Herald reports. Raul Alexander Rios, 32, was being treated in the hospital’s psychiatric ward. His roommate, Alexander Thadeus Jackson, 31, is in jail, charged with murder.

South Florida Business Journal

A measure moving forward in both chambers would allow hospitals to open new trauma centers without approval from the state Department of Health, the South Florida Business Journal reports. Deregulation would likely lead to additional trauma centers; critics say they’re not needed and would result in lower quality of care than at existing trauma centers with experienced teams.

The recidivism rate -- the chance that inmates who are released will be re-arrested and sent back -- has dropped by about 5 percentage points since 2002, the Florida Current reports. In addition to improving public safety, the apparent improvement in released prisoners’ behavior saved taxpayers a lot of money.