Miami-Dade County

2 Florida prisons on lockdown on day of national ‘strike’

Gulf Correctional Institution in the Panhandle was the scene of a disturbance Friday.
Gulf Correctional Institution in the Panhandle was the scene of a disturbance Friday. Florida Department of Corrections

Two more Florida prisons were placed on lockdown Friday, as state corrections officers and commanders attempted to keep order during what was touted as a nationwide prison strike timed to coincide with the 45th anniversary of the infamous riot at Attica prison in New York.

Michelle Glady, spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Corrections, said “disturbances” had happened Friday morning at Gulf and Mayo Correctional Institutions, and that smaller ones were reported in other prisons across the state.

A rebellion in advance of the strike happened at Holmes Correctional in Florida’s Panhandle on Wednesday night, involving more than 400 inmates. It caused damage to nearly every dorm and lasted into early Thursday morning, officials said. No one was seriously injured, but the department was concerned that the disturbance might be a harbinger of future trouble.

Florida’s prison system, the nation’s third-largest, will remain on high alert the rest of the weekend. Glady said the disruptions Friday ranged from a handful of inmates refusing to perform their work assignments to “major” revolts.

She could not say how many had occurred, or how many inmates were involved.

Earlier this year, the department saw disturbances at Jackson Correctional, Franklin Correctional and Okaloosa CI, in addition to prior trouble at Gulf.

Glady said the Florida disturbances are not in protest of “inhumane conditions’’ or abuse, but rather, lesser issues, such as not being able to have recreation or vocational programs; the quality of the food and no access to the canteen, where they can purchase stamps to write to their family, packaged food or toiletries.

The loosely organized national strike, a grassroots effort, comes on the anniversary of the prison riots at Attica, the 1971 prison siege near Buffalo, N.Y., considered the largest prison rebellion in U.S. history. It was not clear Friday whether protests similar to Florida’s occurred elsewhere.