The Florida Senate exhibited due diligence in authoring their prison reform bill. They held hearings, they accepted correspondence from constituents, they visited prisons unannounced, and much more. What gruesome matters the Senate addressed in their bill can be understood quickly from reading a Miami Herald 2014 partial timeline. Know that in no way is the timeline complete; I could tack on entries, so could inmates’ families, other activists, and upstanding current and former corrections officers and officials that still (quite reasonably) fear coming forward.
The Florida House’s gutting of the Senate’s reform bill is a travesty. I personally expected a derailment, given that House Speaker Steve Crisafulli is from Brevard County, our state’s frame-up capital. Brevard’s conviction corruption was known to legislators, governors (including Jeb), Florida and U.S. attorney generals, the FBI, Senate Intelligence Oversight Committee and others prior to Crisafulli selection as House Speaker, as both Wilton Dedge and William Dillon were awarded exoneration compensation, and I never ceased reminding “public servants” that to date, Juan Ramos has not been compensated for his Dedge/Dillon identical frame-up, and that there are many more intact identical Brevard frame-ups, like Gary Bennett’s, and other frame-ups that are dissimilar, like Jeff Abramowski’s.
As I can’t write about Crisafulli’s House without going off on a tangent about his dark Brevard connections, I instead offer this rebuttal to the House mangling the Senate’s bill from psychotherapist/author/former Dade Correctional Institution/Corizon employee George Mallinckrodt’s blog:
April 2, 2015
Former Warden at Florida State Prison Weighs in on House Bill 7131
Ron McAndrew, former warden at FSP, sent me a brief note he gave me permission to share. It is his response to my blog about the gutting of Senate Bill 7020.
“Thanks for the new post. Scott’s boys are up and down the hallways plotting and scheming to prevent any real change. It’s a shame as some very serious oversight is needed. If the amended bill moves forward it will only send a message to the goon-squads that kicking ass and taking names is an OK thing.”
If anybody knows what’s going on inside it’s Ron McAndrew. He also knows a thing or two about retaliation – a very serious and longstanding problem that’s being glossed over by those who want to maintain a culture of brutality and secrecy.
Here’s his quote in Miami Herald article, Florida prison boss orders use-of-force audit, 10/16/14 by Julie Brown.
“Corrections officials know that a significant number of force applications never get reported,” said Ron McAndrew, former warden at Florida State Prison.
“There were many times at Florida State Prison where I would come upon situations where I encountered an inmate who had two black eyes, a bloody mouth, and bruises up and down his body,” he said. “I would ask him what happened and he said he fell off his bunk. Well, he didn’t get injuries like that from falling off his bunk. He was too afraid to tell me that he was beaten by the officers.”
Retaliation doesn’t stop with inmates.
When I spoke to Ron for the first time last year, he told me a story about his first corrections job at Dade Correctional Institution of all places. For those of you who don’t know, DCI was where I worked as a psychotherapist for nearly three years in the psychiatric ward.
Ron went to Europe as a GI in 1958, was discharged there in 1961…worked as a civilian for the USAF for two years and then joined a French firm working in France, the Middle East, Far East and South East Asia until 1978. He lost his job with the French firm in 1978.
In 1979 he was 42 when he took his first job as a correctional officer. Almost immediately, he noticed guards being abusive to inmates. When he wouldn’t go along, his fellow officers sent him a message. They slashed the new tires on his truck and poisoned his dog to death! This was back in 1979/80.
The point is, house members need to understand the severity and long-standing nature of the deep-rooted problems plaguing the FL DOC. They need to pass the strongest possible bill – not HB 7131 in its present form.
You can’t fix a problem by hiding it or hoping it will go away.