Guards’ arrests shows new accountability in Florida prisons
“Whether it [was] accidental or whether it [was] purposeful, any behavior on the part of an officer will not be tolerated, bling spot or no,” Jones said.
We can assume that this Gannett newspaper meant to say “blind spot,” not “bling spot.”
We can’t assume, however, that there’s such a thing as accidentally breaking an inmate’s face. There isn’t.
Nor can we assume that two current arrests have anything at all to do with resolving the backlog of unresolved excessive-use-of-force in-custody deaths, like mentally ill Darren Rainey being scalded to death, or physically ill Randall Jordan-Aparo being gassed to death. Nor can we forget that every inmate that bore witness to excessive force is in danger, especially heroic inmates like Harold Hempstead, who wasn’t about to let Darren Rainey’s death get swept under a carpet in 2012, and isn’t about to let it happen now.
Governor Rick Scott issued a press release about his prison reform Executive Order (below). To understand just how insincere Scott’s is, one needn’t have years of experience of having the Florida Department of Corrections ignore your correspondence concerning the welfare of inmates – like I do – one must only consider the fact that Darren Rainey was murdered by corrections personnel almost three years ago, and absolutely nothing has been done about it, despite the outcries from media sources more legitimate than Gannett, like the Miami Herald and Palm Beach Post.
While every point in Scott’s release could be picked apart, it is my hope that Floridians will pay particular attention to the intent to have reform be “data driven.”
As data goes, allowing the perpetrators of abuse, neglect and violence and their historically overly-sympathetic supervisors – including Florida governors and Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioners – to be the sole source of input is relying entirely on outlier information … which should either be discarded from the data set, or viewed with deep suspicion. Restricting data input to outliers is an open invitation to escalate abuse.
The headline of Gannett’s “bling” story is a lie: there can’t be “new accountability” without old accountability. Darren Rainey doesn’t rest in peace, the inmates that witnessed his homicide remain in danger, and Darren’s brother and every other member of the Rainey family is being taxed without representation to pay the wages and benefits of public servants that don’t serve the public.
Please read my previous blog post about the inmate who Gannett paid so little attention to in promoting prison reforms that reform nothing – see why it’s titled Lumpy, bumpy featherweight inmate gets his face broken by guards.
Governor Rick Scott Issues Executive Order Reforming Florida Prisons
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Governor Rick Scott today signed Executive Order 15-102 which makes significant reforms in Florida’s prison system to improve safety, transparency and accountability. The measures included in Executive Order 15-102 were recommended by Department of Corrections Secretary Julie Jones and various stakeholders. Many of the included reforms are currently being implemented by the FDOC to increase safety.
Governor Scott said, “The steps outlined in today’s executive order present a clear path forward for the Florida Department of Corrections. The Department’s number one focus is the safety of Florida’s correctional officers, communities and the inmates in state custody and supervision. I would like to thank Secretary Jones for advancing the Department’s mission by increasing transparency and accountability in all Florida correctional institutions.”
“The Florida Department of Corrections is committed to progress and reform through data-driven initiatives and actions,” said Secretary Julie Jones. “Looking forward, it is critically important that this Department continues in our efforts to be accountable to the people of Florida, our employees and the hundreds of thousands of inmates and offenders under our custody and supervision.”
In the coming days, weeks and months, the Department will continue working toward progress and reform through the initiatives set forth in Executive Order 15-102 which include:
- Implementation of a four region security and institutional model.
- Enhance and reinforce the importance of safety in institutional security reviews through security review committees.
- Implementation of appropriate staff review policies, classification and practices as needed.
- Maintain an active memorandum of understanding with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to be provided in a timely manner to the Governor, the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
- Implement and mandate the completion of specialized training for inspectors within the Office of Inspector General who conduct sexual abuse investigations in confinement settings.
- Implementation of Department policy and rule that each employee who either applies physical force, or was responsible for the decision to apply physical force shall sign an independent report under oath within one working day of the incident.
- Establishment of a usage and inventory policy to track, by institution, the use of chemical agents and disposal of expired, used, or damaged canisters of chemical agents.
- Implementation of policy and rule that ensures medical staff have the authority to use identification numbers when completing incident reports.
- Implementation of use of force analysis using data driven methodology to ensure that all incidents are reported and properly recorded.
- Implementation of policy and rule protecting all Department employees who report wrongdoing from retaliation of any kind.