Flaws in Florida’s prison system are greater and more common than most people may think. The prison system is suppose to be in place to put criminals away who break the laws and pose a threat to the lives, safety and well being of law abiding citizens. Not only do criminals who pose a threat to the safety of other citizens go to prison, but also those who take advantage of others by committing crimes of theft, fraud and much more. The prison system is suppose to protect society from the criminals by keeping them off the street, but is it the perfect solution? No it is not the perfect solution, and the reason being is the flaws of the prison system itself.
To list all flaws of the prison system, it would mean an entire book or a series of books would need to be written. That is how extensive the problem is. However, most citizens don’t even know that there are flaws. These flaws are costing taxpayers thousands if not millions of dollars. So, what kind of flaws exist in the prison system? We’ll here is a brief overview of the flaws in in the Florida prison system.
Corruption in the Florida prison system exists in almost every level from the prisoners to the officers. One example of the corruption going on, is the on going problem with contraband. Contraband in a prison is anything that is not authorized. For example, cell phones are not allowed as inmates could use them to make un-supervised calls to plan events ranging from prison breaks to attacks on prison officers, jury members, or others who they may blame for their own convictions. Sometimes, people visiting the inmates smuggle contraband in. Visitors have been caught smuggling in phones, money, drugs, and even weapons. So, how does this happen and why? Sometimes contraband gets in because it can’t be detected without doing a full cavity search on every visitor, which is just about impossible. However, sometimes some officers may be paid off to look the other way. Sometimes the officers themselves introduce the contraband into the prison. One example of corruption at this level by a correctional officer is the case of Keith Alan Black who was arrested on Oct. 6, 2008 for introducing cocaine into Liberty Correctional Institution. This information on Keith Black comes directly from the FDLE website. Here comes the question why? The answer is money and greed. Somewhere down the line someone is making a profit off it. A disposable cell phone that costs an average of $50-$100 at Wal-Mart with the first month of unlimited minutes included for free has a black market value of $500-$700 in the prison system. It is untraceable and an inmate can charge other inmates per phone call a cash price or a barter price for shoes, radio, or anything else they want.
Smuggling contraband into the facility isn’t the only corruption that goes on as far as contraband is concerned. One of the biggest contrabands in prisons is food. This may be a shocker, but yes food. Inmates have canteen cards which hold cash balances on them from money sent to them by family and friends. With these canteen cards inmates may purchase snacks and drinks from the canteen as well as other items such as shampoo, soap, writing paper, pens, shoes act. However, not all inmates have family and friends who send money to them. In these cases inmates resort to theft crimes in the prison in order to obtain basic necessities such as shampoo, deodorant, and additional food besides the three meals a day provided to them.
One may ask how and what would a prisoner steal inside a prison? Many inmates are assigned jobs in the prison that include working in the laundry room, medical, canteen, inside grounds, the dorms, on ground farms, and in the kitchen. In medical inmates will often steal band aides, ibuprofen, cold medicine and anything else they can get a hold of. Now many may wonder why would a prisoner want to steal these items when inmates receive medical treatment and such items when they go to medical. The reason is because the inmates are charged for everything. If an inmate in diabetic and placed on a special diabetic diet, they need a diet pass. They are charged $5 for the pass and if it is stolen or lost they have to pay for another one. In cases such as these where inmates obviously aren’t allowed cash in prison and probably wouldn’t pay if they were, the money is collected from the money their family sends in. This means the inmate then doesn’t get all of the money sent to them for canteen to buy sanitary items.
In the kitchen, the prison workers steal food such as sausages, chicken, and fresh vegetables. Then the inmates sell the food items in their dorms or out on the recreation yard. On footballs Sundays the recreation yards can often appear as a fruit stand if your in the right area. Items such as sugar and rice are also hot commodities to make homemade buck(wine). While it isn’t possible to catch all the stealing without doing strip searches
on every inmate, every day, all day, many officers and sergeants’ know about a lot of it and let it happen. Sometimes it is allowed out of compassion. Many times though it is allowed because an officer is getting something out of. When looking at Florida’s prison system and their budgets, many of the food costs are over budget. The theft of food is the number one reason for high food budgets in the prisons. Get rid of the corrupt officers and replace them with officers who won’t let it happen and taxpayers would same tons on reduced food costs for prison budgets.
Employees of the Florida Prison System take an oath to uphold the law and to follow the strict procedures of the Florida Department of Corrections. In general, employees of the Florida Department of Corrections are held to higher standard than most other citizens in the workforce. How ever many employees in the Florida prison system have no integrity. Many employees in Florida prisons turn the other cheek when officers are corrupt or when inmates are hurting other inmates. Corruption in the Florida Prison System is so predominant that many employees will not stand up for what’s right. Some employees actually leave the job they have because they have moral issues with what goes on in Florida Prisons. Other employees on the other hand lower their standards and do as the others do and loose their integrity along the way. Many employees go to work in the prison system and collect their pay, vacation time, sick time, and retirement benefits, but they do nothing to better the system. Instead, many just go through the motions and do as little as possible in the work place.
Employees of the Florida Prison system are not allowed to work the same shift in the same facility if they are married or involved in a relationship. However, many employees in the Florida Prisons treat the facilities as their own personal pick up places. In one particular facility I have personal had an officer try to kiss me while on the job. This is un-acceptable. Not only has this happened to me personally, but often times employees will go out with other employees on the same shift, have relationships and a couple of months down the road , they end up swapping partners with other co workers. To make matters worse many times some of these employees not only talk about these relationships to inmates but they brag about them to the inmates. Having relationships in the work place is serious enough, but some employees actually have relationships with the inmates. Not only is this morally wrong, but it’s also against the law. Needless to say, it does happen and occasionally such incidents pop up in the news where employees of the corrections department was arrested for getting caught in the act.
These are just a few of the flaws in the Florida prison system. The flaws are all intertwined and related directly or indirectly to the corruption in the system. Most of the flaws cost the Florida taxpayers who are paying the bill. Some of these flaws cost the inmates. While the inmates are there because they committed crimes, not all of them are bad people. Some inmates such as someone sentenced to prison for a second DUI, may not be a bad person, but just a person with a drinking problem. These inmates are people too and deserve to be treated fairly without having to be pressured into committing more crimes in prison. Inmates who get into trouble often get lock into confinement, which is a 3×3 cell. Often times they are locked up for 30 days or more. This happened sometimes due to their own choices, but sometimes it happens because they are threatened by other inmates making them steal or sometimes just because an officer doesn’t like them and lies. Either way the flaws are endless and affect many.