Scott Whitney embarrassed the Florida Department of Corrections when he used multiple smuggled-in cameras and shot hours of video at Martin Correctional Institution depicting zombie-like drug overdoses, skittering rats, a homemade shank, rampant mold and vicious brawls — typical conditions in the Florida prison system.
The footage, which he titled “Behind Tha Barb Wire,” was then smuggled to the outside and found its way to the Miami Herald, which posted it online last month.
He promised to keep shooting footage, even after his bootleg cameras were taken away. And somehow Whitney, 34, managed to get his hands on another cellphone this month.
It was discovered Monday as he was being transferred from one prison to another.
He had hidden the camera inside a body cavity.
For years, Whitney filmed using oversize glasses with cameras attached or cellphones hidden inside of a Holy Bible for his documentary. His footage showed life inside Martin, considered one of Florida’s more dangerous prisons.
The video was shot in snippets, with Whitney or other inmates narrating descriptions of life inside Martin. In one, he says he’ll keep recording no matter what because, although cameras are considered contraband, there are always ways to get a phone into a prison.
“America, I love you,” Whitney said in one video. “I’mma keep pressing this play, this record button.”
On Monday, Whitney was transferred to Taylor Correctional Institutional Annex. When he arrived, a body scanner picked up a cellphone hidden inside of him, according to the Florida Department of Corrections. When Whitney removed it as ordered, he tried to throw the phone into a toilet. Officers were able to prevent him flushing the evidence.
A correctional officer then used force to “direct Whitney to the ground” and handcuff him.
“He was not ‘beaten,’ ” FDC said in an email.
Whitney is serving 30 years for drug trafficking. His prison record, as of about 1 p.m. on Monday, didn’t show him receiving a disciplinary report or any gain time lost for the phone. The use of force is being reviewed by the Office of Inspector General, FDC said.
Whitney had been placed in administrative confinement, a form of incarceration more restrictive than general population.
Despite being outlawed, cellphones are ever-present in Florida prisons. According to an FDC report, nearly 9,000 cellphones were seized in the most recent 12-month period recorded. Most come through corrections officers, who can make profits by serving as conduits, Ron McAndrew, a prison consultant and former warden, said earlier this month.
Secretary Mark Inch has attributed the system’s contraband problem to low wages for staff. FDC employees make a base salary of $33,500, according to the department’s website, and work 12-hour shifts.
In a clip from 2017, Whitney talks about how easily he was able to get another cellphone after getting his last one confiscated.
“Money makes the world go round,” he said. “And there’s corruption everywhere in the system.”