If a hurricane hit the state of Florida, no doubt Gov. Rick Scott would declare a state of emergency.
Why then, hasn't there been an equally urgent response to Florida prison system's obviously chaotic, understaffed and dangerous powder keg of an environment?
On Monday an officer was stabbed. On Tuesday, an inmate died in a protective-custody cell.
Sen. Joe Negron, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice, claims it’s unfair to link these incidents to understaffing. Really?
Even though the agency has been recorded as having “fallen below minimal staffing levels 21,000 times in a year” and Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Julie Jones saying they've “narrowly avoided inmate riots.”
Kudos to hiring Jones, but shame on Florida lawmakers for rejecting her desperate plea of $36 million for 734 new officers to help the dangerous situation. They gave her less than a third of the officers she asked for; meanwhile, officer overtime costs $25 million a year.
Florida lawmakers need to wake up and face the disaster the Florida’s prison system has become and fund accordingly.
Gina Guilford, Miami