What’s Ahead Legislatively For Florida’s Prison, Juvenile Justice Systems?
“If you’re a correctional officer that makes more than the new base, you don’t get a raise this year—unless you qualify for the Governor’s performance bonus plan. But, this encourages existing employees to promote part 2 of the recruitment and retention plan is $1,000 hiring bonus at facilities that are over 10 percent vacant. And, there’s a requirement that if you leave before a two year commitment is up, that you pay it back.”
The comment I posted online to the above article, which likely won’t be approved:
WFSU has an obligation to be more than a mouthpiece for state-run agencies, especially at a time when Florida’s legislators and governor are paying millions to millionaires, i.e. Pitbull and Emeril Lagasse, for services that benefit only our already-wealthy tourism industry. Our corrections workers labor in unsafe conditions for abysmal pay, and deserve an across-the-board, no-strings-attached pay raise. This story needs a rewrite, one that provides the opinions of actual stakeholders – corrections workers, inmates, inmates’ families – to counter the opinions of the stake-drivers of the #PrisonIndustrialComplex – our legislators, governor, agency leaders – who wound 99% of us for the benefit of 1% of us.
As a sought-out consultant to businesses in the metropolitan Detroit area, I instructed business owners on the folly of paying insultingly low wages. Workers who receive below industry-standard wages will return the insult in every way they can conceive of … absenteeism, on-the-job substance abuse, quitting without notice, aggression or violence towards coworkers/customers/suppliers, theft or destruction of equipment/inventory/supplies, and much more. It is human nature to push back when one is pushed.
The accounting formulas for ascertaining the cost of employee turnover from failure to pay a fair wage cannot calculate the above far-flung costs of the blatant stupidity of demanding more income altruism from employees than a reasonable person can expect from their clergy.
Months ago, I blogged about inmate whistleblower Harold Hempstead’s endangerment at Martin Correctional Institution. Harold was told that his sister had arranged a contract “hit” on his life and that he must be held in confinement for his own safety. Harold’s sister is flat broke; she could no more arrange a “hit” than she could arrange to vacation in Hawaii. Harold’s sister is also his staunchest ally. She fought for Harold’s immediate transfer, and prevailed, which did not resolve Martin’s horrifying personnel problems.
The proof that Martin still has horrific personnel problems is that incarcerated innocent Gary Bennett is now in confinement there. He has been told that the actions of his sisters has resulted in there being a contract “hit” on his life.
Harold Hempstead is resourceful and intelligent; he wasn’t fooled by Martin personnel’s lies for a moment. Gary Bennett is the victim of traumatic brain injuries inflicted by his father; his resourcefulness and intellect were beaten out of him. He fell for the lies Martin personnel told him about his sisters, and it could cost him his life.
Gary’s traumatic brain injuries left him with volatile epilepsy. Martin interrupted his medications during this mess. Gary endured interruptions at other facilities before, and it caused him to have seizures. Any seizure can be fatal.
Even if Gary is now receiving his medication without interruption, a stress-engendered seizure could still cause his death. They’re called breakthrough seizures, and they’re quite common under extreme duress. I know this from my medical training and experience, and I know this from having volatile epilepsy … I’ve had breakthrough seizures.
One of the ways I can tell I’m in danger of a breakthrough seizure is an obvious failure in proofreading my writing. I routinely transpose words and numbers, among other predictable mistakes, so I proofread everything I write many times before hitting send or publish. The email I sent yesterday in response to receiving correspondence concerning Gary’s plight looks like it wasn’t proofread, even though it was – repeatedly. The bracketed corrections I’ve made indicate that my neurons were misfiring yesterday. If I revisit this blog post tomorrow and discover that it’s riddled with errors, too, it’ll mean my neurons are misfiring right now.
Gary and I both need help, seizures aren’t a bit of fun, and any seizure can prove fatal. If you can find it in your heart, please copy the To: and Cc: addresses as well as the Subject: line below and email a simple request – Please don’t let Martin Correctional Institution investigate itself for treating inmate Gary Bennett the way it treated inmate/whistleblower Harold Hempstead. Please inform Gary that his sisters had nothing to do with his being in confinement, and then let him call them … today. On the state’s dimes. Thank you.
If you can spare a few minutes more, please share this post to call out WFSU’s reporting as well as our legislators and governor’s skewed, self-serving budget priorities. Among the inmates that I tried to protect with blog posts are Jeffrey Srang, Daniel Geiger and Richard Mair. They all died far too young: things go haywire when a workforce is paid insulting wages. Thanks.
From: Susan Chandler <email@example.com>
Date: March 3, 2017 5:12:42 PM EST
To: FL_GOV Inspector General <FL_GOV.InspectorGeneral@eog.myflorida.com>, “Wester, Robert” <Robert.Wester@fdc.myflorida.com>
Cc: Governor Rick Scott <Rick.Scott@eog.myflorida.com>, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Subject: Gary Stanley Bennett DC# 092481 – CIG Assignment: 2017-02-28-0009 – Martin CI
Office of the Chief Inspector General
Robert G. Wester | Senior Law Enforcement Inspector
Office of the Inspector General | Intake Unit
501 South Calhoun Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32399
Dear Operations Manager Robinson and Inspector Wester,
While I can and do thank [you for] the promptness of your separate responses, I cannot thank you for their content. What they amount to, overall, is allowing Martin Correctional Institution to investigate itself over Gary Bennett’s current circumstances, which mirror whistleblower Harold Hempstead’s prior circumstances at Martin, which were never properly addressed … Harold was simply speedily transferred out of Martin, with no attempts that I’m aware of to determine the originators of the lies about his sister, and the originators of the threat on his life.
Gary requested a transfer to Martin to be closer to family. After 33+ years of wrongful incarceration, the very, very least Florida owes him is safe and secure proximity to his family, sans additional violation of his constitutional rights.
Gary is the victim of fabricated evidence – a civil rights violation. By the time Brevard County prosecutors put dog handler John Preston on the stand to testify against Gary in January of 1984, they knew that he had been discredited by Julius Manning’s confessions to a series of post office crimes in the summer of 1982, one of which Dale Sutton was then wrongly serving time for based on John Preston’s perjuries. Sutton was exonerated and released from federal custody in January of 1983. This knowledge came to me indirectly through an January 30, 1984 article about Gary’s recent conviction in the Sentinel (now the Orlando Sentinel). I fleshed out the details of the article via Internet searches long BEFORE William Dillon’s Brevard/Preston exoneration in 2008. As I previously mentioned in my correspondence regarding Gary’s current situation, I also advocated for Wilton Dedge, another Brevard/Preston exoneree (2004).
Conspiracy to violate rights is the page we’re now on in the story of Gary’s frame-up, a conspiracy that the FBI is a party to. They used Preston in the 9th judicial circuit against Linroy Bottoson, who was wrongly executed in 2002. The FBI used a number of DNA-discredited dog handers [handlers]. Their silence is horrifying as it is monumentally disappointing: it signifies that the agency has not put J. Edgar Hoover’s nefarious ways behind them.
Hoover never played fair, and never had a value system that merited a moment of public employment. Those were his choices, those were his traits. That Hoover’s successors choose to embrace them continually harms us: several governors are willing participants in dog handler frame-ups, including Virginia and Texas governors, not just Florida governors (dating back at least to Bob Graham). These governors’ willingness to play along with conviction corruption is doubtless based on untoward but to-date justified confidence that the FBI will not come clean about using Preston, Keith Pikett or any other make believe scent evidence expert.
You have choices; you have traits, and now is the time for you both to prove that you merit public employ. Don’t let Martin Correctional Institution investigate itself and hold itself harmless for this repeat performance of Harold Hempstead’s traumatic experience while continuing to endanger Gary … I have not exaggerated the volatility of Gary’s or my epilepsy, the strong possibility of breakthrough seizures for either of us under duress, or the life threat that any seizure causes. Every moment counts. For both of us.
Please immediately let Gary call both of his sisters on the Sunshine State’s dimes to let them know that he is okay, that he knows they did nothing to have him put into confinement, that they have done nothing to cause there to be a contract on his life. Please ensure that Gary is receiving his medications without interruption. Please ensure that there either is no contract on Gary’s life or that the threat has been eliminated. Please get to the bottom of every aspect of Gary’s Martin mess, as well as Harold’s. Thank you.