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Four DOC nurses fired, seven guards suspended after two-day inmate beating

by Dara Kam | August 21st, 2009

State prison officials fired four nurses and put seven guards on leave pending the outcome of an investigation into a brutal attack over the weekend of a Union Correctional Institution inmate.

The nurses were fired for failing to report the beatings that took place over two days, which another employee reported. One of the nurses was a state corrections employee and three others were contract workers.

The 47-year old unidentified inmate “has multiple injuries and is being treated at an outside hospital,” a press release issued late last night by Department of Corrections Secretary Walt McNeil said.

McNeil is holding a press conference at 11:15 to discuss the beatings.

“I intend to bring the full resources of this agency to bear on the individuals responsible for this violent assault, including prosecution, termination and decertification, so they can never work in a correctional environment again. There is no place in our profession for this depraved mindset,” McNeil said in the statement.

The weekend attack is the latest in a string of attacks by guards on inmates at the prison in Raiford or nearby Florida State Prison in Starke.

In June a DOC FSP guard was arrested after being captured on videotape beating an inmate during a power outage. Eleven other employees were involved in that attack.

Four UCI prison officers were fired after an April 9 beating of an inmate. That incident remains under investigation.

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57 Responses to “Four DOC nurses fired, seven guards suspended after two-day inmate beating”

  1. Ocala Says:

    I am so sick and tired of reading about these CO’s who THINK they have a right to beat on inmates and then the nurses who play the game right along with them by covering up the crime!

    I hope they are prosecuted in a court of law and sent to prison themselves!

    As far as I’m concerned, these so-called “officers” are cowards and hide behind the FDOC shield!!

    I’m glad to know that there are SOME decent officers still around; there is NO EXCUSE and I’m sure the inmate was cuffed and shackled at the time of his beating as well.

    Florida has some of the most criminally minded officers working in the DOC who themselves, should be locked up!

    These FDOC officers are a disgrace and the nurses are as well.

  2. Post On Politics » Blog Archive » Post on Politics - Says:

    [...] the Federal Bureau of Investigations to join state law enforcement officials investigating the weekend beating of an inmate by prison guards at Union Correction Institution in [...]

  3. Iron Triangle Says:

    The feds should also consult those of us in the know about the inmates buried in the pauper’s cemetery in back of Union C.I. who DOC officials claimed had died of natural causes, but who in fact, were murdered. State officials cannot be trusted with such an investigation; the “Good Ole Boy” politics inherent to the Florida prison culture is proof positive of such. Indeed we need look no further than to the 1999 beating death of FSP inmate Frank Valdes, whose killers were acquitted by a Union County jury, the forman of which being a former DOC official himself.

  4. FDCOEyes Says:

    The guards were ONLY suspended? Is that a joke? How about they get beat for 2 days and see if they want their attackers to only be suspended from their jobs??? GIVE ME A BREAK ALREADY – FDOC Correctional Officers ARE NOT and will NEVER be above the law – why can’t they get that thru their thick heads?! I SCREAM prosecute, prosecute, prosecute ALL involved.

  5. Diva Says:

    How frightening. I have a loved one recently moved to FSP and I fear for his life every day. Officials act as if they don’t know that this goes on…give me a break! There needs to be some sort of special unit that investigates prisons and their employees – something Federal because county and local government prove time and time again that they just turn a blind eye to the abuse and murder that takes place behind the walls of the DOC. Whomever is doing the mental evaluations on the guards and officers needs to be fired. If an inmate can tell you right off which guards need to be avoided at all costs just by watching their mannerisms then someone being paid a ridiculous sum of money allowing nut cases, hicks and power drunk abusers create even worse monsters needs to be charged with a crime as well.

  6. FDOCEyes Says:

    Bravo Ocala & Diva…. I’m still trying to figure out why the DOC always “thinks” it’s the inmate who needs to be reprimanded. Here’s a good idea… since these CO’s beat him and the nurses didn’t do anything about it, make them pay for his hospital stay – don’t use tax dollars on their negligence.

  7. truth Says:

    How is it that you people know all that is being said is true? These cos and nurses are being acused by a convicted felon at a maxium prison. Did you guys see the word alleged or convicted! You are the problem jumping to the answer before listening to the whole story. So if you think these people should be puinsh before the whole truth is out there. You might want to look in the mirror to find the monster.

  8. Max Says:

    in answer to “truth”: I’ll tell you how I know what’s been said is true…I was a FL DOC employee for a very brief time & worked side by side with many ignorant-redneck-hick-barely-got-their-GED-power-drunk-guards.
    I refuse to call them “Corrections Officers” since that implies a professionalism the majority do not possess by any stretch of the imagination!

  9. truth Says:

    Well, max, do you also put everyone in your life in one area if you had a bad experience with them. Lets say you didnt like your waiter. Does that make all of them the same. I am just saying if this crimanal has right to go to court of his peers and be judge so do these people. And I have look up some of this stuff, Did you know that F.S.P. and U.C.I. take everything in the state of FL. that other places dont want and they cant turn them away. So I would think they would need to be people like you describe eailer to take care of them. The most of the inmates are repeat offenders with years and years to be there, and their crimes are awful.

  10. Johnson Says:

    Well lets see if the warden and asst warden do get fired. Who else? The major, colonel, sergeants? This is what makes corrections so exciting.

  11. Ocala Says:

    And “Truth”, what EXACTLY does your comment mean? That because they’re inmates and because some may be repeat offenders and because they’re being housed at FSP and UCI that gives these officers the liberty to beat down another?? If this inmate was truly in need of a butt-kicking, why did they go to the lengths they did to cover it up? Why did 4 nurses put their jobs on the line and ultimately end up being fired for not coming forward? What are they hiding from??

    Wrong is wrong. The only difference between those who assaulted the inmate and the inmate himeself is the color of their uniform!

    You obviously have no clue!

  12. truth Says:

    WOW, I thing maybe Ocala has been to prison? The comment means you are taking te word of a convicted person (who had a right to trial) over people who go through a backround check and have not had a chance to a trial. The big difference is that right there, not the color of there uniforms. If a convicted felon say it is so then it must be so. And listen to the story, That many grown men jump on one person and he lives and you have 4 nurse willing to give up everything (are they marry to these co?) Sounds like a fairytale to me. But for some reason you feel these people have no right to a trail before you say they did it! And as I said before they are not your everyday of the run normal crimanals!!!

    So maybe I am the one who has a clue and ,you, well I have a book of fairytales if you would like to use it.Before you tell me I have no clue do some looking into the matter. Dont use what happen to you to convict these people!!!!

  13. Iron Triangle Says:

    Readily apparent is that “truth” is either an employee of Union or FSP, or is related to one of the people being accused.

    I never ceases to amaze me how FLDOC employees, particularly those working in The Iron Triangle, attempt justifying their brutal treatment of inmates playing the convict-employee-LEO chord.

  14. truth Says:

    You caught me iron, I do know people who where brown but I am relate to along line of people who wore blue and know how they think. I am not saying that the man was not harm. But beat for two days COME ON! You know how goes, dont you, you stub your toe and then claim its is broken. So people out here will feel sorry for you. And see that what I mean when I say let theses people have a fair trial , like you did, before you find them gulity.

    And the same could be said about inmates. It never seems to amaze me how they can throw feces, kill a female officer, and do as they please to other human being and think there should be no consequence. Say as you please if I threw feces in your face you would attemp to harm me back, They call it human nature. Not I am in prison so I should be able to harm you in away I please and there is nothing you can do about it. ACTION GETS REACTION.

  15. Iron Triangle Says:

    Truth:

    It isn’t the inmate claiming he suffered serious injuries. It’s DOC.

    You are correct that action gets reaction. I’d bet heavily that not evey UCI or FSP officer has had feces thrown at them. I’d also bet heavily that the ones who have are officers who have gone out of their way to create unnecessary problems for the inmates.

    Good point about female officers being murdered. Had the Charlotte C.I. officials responsible for the security meltdown resulting in Officer Darla Lathrem’s murder been criminally prosecuted, as they well should have, Tomoka Officer Donna Fitzgerald would likely be alive today.

  16. Ocala Says:

    You truly have no clue, Truth. I have never been to prison, you fool. I’m commenting on the issue itself and that is, a man was ALLEGEDLY (there, are you happy now??) beaten for 2 days by more then one person.

    Anyone who knows anything about UCI, knows that it’s a geriatric camp, it houses psych inmates and it’s a confinement camp as well as death row.

    I’m willing to bet the vast majority of the population inmates housed at UCI are convicted child molesters who the general public despises anyway so why not beat them down? Don’t act as though this “form of punishment” doesn’t happen, couldn’t happen or never has happened Truth because if you are from the Iron Triangle (like I am), then you are well aware that there are plenty of those good ol’ boy – red neck beer drinking slobs that call themselves CO’s who just LOVE extracting their own kind of punishment on the weak.

    It’s always cause for conversation and to say the least… a good laugh. I know… I’ve seen it and heard it here in Lake Butler and I’m sure you have too.

    Bottom line is, an inmate’s punishment is to be separated from society because he failed to follow the laws of the land… since when did it become the CO’s job to inflict his own form of punishment??

    And BTW, we see how “good” background checks are… maybe you missed the article of Michelle Hung the CO at Osceola County Jail who was arrested after ALLEGEDLY smuggling a gun into the jail for her inmate?? Mmmm… apparently her background check failed to provide the necessary information that showed she’d had a run-in with the law before… and that’s putting it nicely.

    Again, WRONG is WRONG. No matter what color one is wearing. CO’s don’t have the right to beat inmates, just because…

  17. Iron Triangle Says:

    Ocala:

    Very well put.

  18. CeCe Says:

    Well…I have been reading this little hosh-posh of cluelessness..by all. I have a little information for all of you: there is no such thing as an impartial investigation into DOC inmate abuses by those “entrusted” with the security and order of the institutions here in Florida. In 1998 I was an eyewitness to several weeks of repeated beatings, abuses,and falsifications of official records when the targeted inmate died from the injuries. These DOC officers hung the inmate on the door of her cell to make it look like a suicide. She was found at quarter past midnight, yet these same DOC officers walked by her hanging there for over 2 hours never saying or doing nothing about it. In the confinement unit she was housed in they walked the corridors every 15 minutes, in their socks and holding their keys so as not to make any noise, in an effort to catch any inmates talking after 10 p.m. lights out. I was lying on the floor of my cell reading a book by the light on in the hall. The dead inmate was a mere 2 doors away from me. Twice I was ordered off the floor and to get back on the bed before this hanging inmate was found at quarter after midnight. Using my mirror when all heck broke loose, I could plainly see the marks of the abuse of that day on her body. And she was pure black from the waist down. When CSI finally cut her down she was stiff as rigor had set in already. Now, you tell me how a person who has not been dead for hours bore these tell-tale signs of death since the last walk-by at 11:30 p.m. to 12:15 a.m. when the next shift found her. And, as autopsy revealed, how a person with a broken ankle, broken ribs, broken wrist and was supposedly on strip status for misconduct was able to climb the 6 foot barred door and hang herself, holding herself up to the bars, and then tying the knots of a her “noose”, which was a bra, while having all these injuries? And not make a sound that could be heard a mere 20 feet away?
    Earlier that day when her last brutal beating, sexual abuse by a male CO with high rank, and stripping took place she was screaming and crying, begging them to stop. But they did not stop. In fact, they laughed thinking it funny. There was a scuffle and then silence. WE that were housed on that wing tried on several occasions prior to her being “found” to talk to her. But it was silent from her cell. So, all you clueless people out there, tell me how this inmate, who only had an eighteen month sentence for grand theft and a first time offender, supposedly committed suicide? What’s more once they learned I was willing to tell what I knew, saw or heard, they attempted, twice, to kill me. In the end, none were fired, charged, or the like. THe female prison in Monticello was changed to a male prison as a way to reduce the abuse on inmates housed there. That was DOC’s solution to the unchecked abuse, records being falsified or destroyed, and finally, murders. (yes, another inmate was found dead by hanging in the confinement unit just 3 weeks later after she too complained of abuse by DOC guards).
    I am out of that nightmare called corrections now, but I am in therapy to cope with the years of abuse and multiple injuries I suffered at their hands. I went to the ER a month ago for the an injection of anti-inflammatory to my shoulder resulting from an untreated injury when they broke my arm and dislocated my shoulder, then denied me treatment, and falsified my medical records, instead putting me in seclusion for “attempted suicide”. This took place because I was standing on top of the sink to avoid having to stand in raw sewage in my cell from overflown toilets from down the hall because the CO’s did not report the plumbing problems to the maint. dept for 3 days. One even told me that a piece of sh-t like us inmates should feel right at home in the sh-t in our cells. While at the ER I saw the male CO with high rank enter for treatment for a leg injury he sustained in some kind of accident off-duty. When the nurse asked his occupation he stated he was employed by DOC as colonel in a male institution here in Polk county. At the time of the inmate’s abuse and murder in 1998, which he was the main abuser, he was a lieutenant. So, boys and girls, in DOC you not only are found “justified” for abuses of those in their care, you are rewarded and promoted. And this was not by far the only incident I either witnessed first-hand or experienced over the course of my leisurely vacation in DOC.

  19. truth Says:

    Yes, I am happy.(thank you OCALA) And we will see how this all turns out and I will be back. But I can tell you for fact it didnt happen the way they said. And cece there are inmates at U.C.I. and F.S.P. that use to be officers and they are there for things like you are refering to. Justice is not always there but it dose show up.And it seems that you are only telling one side of the story, your view, and that is what I have been saying, get all the information before you have a quilty or not guilty verdict. And the comments about clueless Well I havent given a verdict yet because I dont have all the info as of yet and dont what to appear clueless. So when I get my verdict it will be on fact not what hearsay or she say. I dont know anything about sitting around telling good stories about beatings in lake butler. If you do I hope like hell the next time they you get up and tell them you want no part of it and they should be ashame. Because no matter why it happen it is not funny!!!!!

  20. CeCe Says:

    Well, “truth” has struck yet again. While I can appreciate your view on the matter, I must say that perhaps you should consider that history speaks well of excessive uses of force and abuses of authority by those whom are employed in such facilities. The law books are full of such cases. And the few who were once CO’s and now in prison are very far and very, very few between. Rodney King was a good example….the “truth” was on tape, yet all involved were found not guilty? So, please spare me the soap boxing about having all of the facts before rendering a verdict. And furthermore, what I spoke of was not in any way, shape or form hearsay or he say/she say…but was pure fact as I witnessed it taking it place, seeing with my own eyes and hearing with my own ears.
    I try not to judge anyone based on my time inside, but I really am quite weary of folks like you who uphold this kind of extreme behavior and abuse by the majority of power zealots that reign unchecked within DOC as justified and then say that no one knows what the inmates do to the CO’s. Granted, some inmates do test the limits of a reasonable person with their behavior, but does that justify a 6 to 1 beating, in which I have little doubt the inmate was handcuffed while being beaten, making any real threat to the 6 or so CO’s who surround him almost non-existent. I once called a Co out of their name and you know what my “punishment” was for such an infraction? I was handcuffed, beaten, forcibly had my clothing cut from me by no less than 4 males holding me down, left bleeding and naked in an empty cell with nothing but a steel bed frame and a toilet with no running water. I was denied food, water, toilet paper, blanket and medical care by these CO’s for 5 straight days as punishment for calling the captain a stupid b-tch. But now, I suppose you will tell me that I don’t have all of the facts? Palease, spare me.

  21. dragonfly Says:

    Thank you CeCe for your insight. Truth, get a life your ignorance is showing. I am the wife of an inmate at UCI and I can assure you, you (truth) are way off. First of all, there is a mixed bag of offenders at UCI and about half are at the lowest security risk grade. Many are there due to high grade medical issues not the horrific crime committed or behaviors. I am glad to see the nurses were fired. As a nurse myself, I have had the “pleasure” of discussing medical issues with these so called professionals. I am embarassed to say they are in the same profession as I. Truth be told I have personally had the pleasure of reporting nurses at UCI not only to the DOC but to the Fl Board of Nursing. The “Good Ole Boy” attitude is very apparent everywhere at the facility. These CO’s and higher ups even try to treat and speak to the visitors as if we are inmates and somehow below them. Not much gets past me as I immediately go to the captains office right there and then and report the officer on the spot. The inmates are there to serve a sentence imposed through the courts and not also any punishment the officers would like to impose as well. They get a paycheck to baby sit not abuse. As the wife, I have to choose which battles need fighting as my husband still resides there and has been threatened several times after I have made a complaint to the Warden, District Sec, and Secretary (I always cc my emails to all). Minimum standards of care are not met daily by the nurses or MD’s and again I have had to remind them the law requires at least minimum. The CO’s are very slow in seeking medical help for an inmate as well and sometimes the delay is fatal. So you see, the abuse going on is real and with generations of families living in and near these institutions, you have these preconceived attitudes being passed down over and over again. Ask CeCe about count…..I bet they hardly ever cleared just once but re-count after re-count. Funny, I can count the men out at the visitor park once and it takes 4 CO’s 3-4 times before all 4 of them get the correct number. Hmm, so much for background check etc……this means nothing as you have to look at the core of a person to determine how they will act and respond to different situations. Heck, most are over weight and were very happy when the old Secretary retired because he was clamping down and was trying to make them more professional in apperance and attitude.So you see, think before you open your mouth and let your ignorance flow out, if you have never worked at a prison, been an inmate, or a visitor you really haven’t a clue what you are talking about.

  22. aprisonnurse Says:

    Hmmmm! Its amazing how dragonfly is ready to speak up about how her husband and others are mistreated at UCI she must be looking for a lawsuit of some sort. As you can tell I work for DOC as a nurse. She kind of reminds me of preschool when there were tattle-tails. shes miserable with her own life and in order to make herself feel good she tries to bring someone down…Let me tell you something about these nurses.. First of all when you come to visit your so called WRONGFULLY ACCUSED Husband you are in an area away from confinment You do not even have a clue of what we go thru to keep these criminal behind bars most of which would not last 10 minutes outside in the real world. We have sometimes 110 more patients to give healthcare to and most of them complain about having to pay a little 5.00 payment. We as DOC nurses give them the best healthcare that we could possible give them. No we dont give them creams of any sort so that they can masturbate to everyone outside and inside the building Most of them expect us to fluff their pillows for them before they go to bed as if we owe them something. The only thing we ask for is to be treated with respect. We do understand that some of these inmates do have mental problems but throwing feces or urine on an officer because he didnt get a COOKIE with his meal.. well it looks like to me hes just a spoiled individual who never got enough spankings at home. And as for counting….you may count 20 inmate in the visiting park but UCI houses approximatley 2500 inmates who are all around the compound. Good for you that you can count to 20 maybe well give you a cookie instead

  23. Ocala Says:

    aprisonnurse:

    First of all, learn how to spell, otherwise, we may think that a DOC nursing job is ALL you could get. Are you even legal to be in the USA? Is your license up to par?

    Secondly, I don’t think any of the comments on here stated that their loved one was WRONGFULLY CONVICTED; perhaps you got your articles mixed up.

    I believe the issue(s) that were being discussed and debated were that of INMATE ABUSE by CO’s and the blatant fact that 4 nurses turned their backs on what happened without reporting it.

    You are an idiot and probably the reason why you hold a nursing job w/the DOC. You all are a huge part of the problem as well and you know it. Inmate abuse didn’t start at UCI and it didn’t start with this inmate’s alleged beating either. It’s been ongoing throughout time and throughout the USA and worldwide. Of course you’re going to come on here and defend your job & the CO’s; however, because we’re speaking about inmates, one would tend to “believe” you before an inmate’s story anyway.

    You people call yourselves clinicians and health-care providers but you are so far removed from those labels; I don’t know how you can MORALLY live with yourselves.

    Your job is to provide health-care to an inmate, PERIOD; it’s not your job to judge him or dispense health-care when YOU think it’s right and that’s what many of you do.

    As well, many of you so-called nurses date CO’s so for you to even actually do the right thing, may in fact be something that you can’t do.

    I’ve been involved with the FDOC far too long to know that what you’re saying is so full of crap… though there may be a few of the health-care employees that actually do care, the ones that don’t out-number the good.

    And you by far… are NO GOOD!

    Do what’s MORALLY right and quit complaining that you’re working with inmates. If it’s sooo bad, then find another job!

    You are a disgrace to the true professionals that actually treat other human beings the way a HUMAN BEING should be treated.

  24. FDOCEyes Says:

    Wow – APrisonNurse – sounds like you’re complaining about a job YOU applied for. NO ONE forces you to work there – so shut it and do your job as you get paid for. If you don’t like it – than quit – go work someplace else where you don’t ahve to worry about dealing with “cookies” not being served.

  25. FDOCEyes Says:

    *have

  26. Ocala Says:

    aprisonnurse:

    One other thing: You were hired to do a job. Do your job. And as a United States citizen, you are also morally and civilly obligated to report a crime when you know one has been committed. Period.

    It doesn’t matter where the crime is taking place or on whom the crime is enacted against; the fact of the matter is, it’s a crime!!!

    Furthermore, the mere fact that you even had the audacity to come on here trying to justify ANYTHING on the part of CO’s or nurses involved, is down right appalling.

    You should be ashamed of yourself!

  27. dragonfly Says:

    I could not have said it any better Ocala and FDOCEyes……. my thoughts exectly. Aprisonnurse, you sound very frustrated and just like one of the CO’s. Have you forgotten your oath? Do no harm and serve those in need of care regardless of any situation or circumstance. I believe 99% of the nurses at the DOC could not get a job or make it out here in the real world AND could not get away with the nonsense they pull in there. Handing out meds at a window 8-12 hr shifts is not nursing and care in the infirmary well……enough said, the men are on auto-pilot. Don’t get me started with call out visits and the nurse’s assessment. How do you think most of the inmates get money but from family and friends. If they have none they do not have the $5 you are making refernce about. Please, let use know more of your ignorant thoughts it is enlightening. Basic counting will led to being able to count up to 90 or greater. If I have a choice in cookies please make it an Oreo. Thank you.

  28. truth Says:

    Wow, you guys really let prison nurse have it, name calling, degrading her,even stating she is not a citzen just because she gave her side of some things. I can only shake to think what you would have done if she threw shit on you.

    And uci is a level 7 security prison, so if your husband is not max security and if you have such a problem with it there have him move. Or is it you have a problem accepting that he is there at all, I would think it would be very diffcult to go see your husband at any prison. And as far as the 5 dollar charge it is really bull that they dont have to pay for insurance, copay or anything that our elderly, miltary or children have to pay for medical care of any sort!!!!! But I guess we should be more worry about these people who could not live among us and not hurt people. Why is your husband there? Wrong place wrong time? Sing to loud in the choir? I hope he is not in the same class as the person who threw feces on people, steals, molest children, deals drugs to children. It would take someone with low self worth to stay married to someone like that. So I am sure that your husband it not any of thoses things right?

    And prison nurse the more I Know about this the more I want to say Thank you for getting up everyday and going somewhere they masterbate at you, cuss you because you wouldnt give them a bottle of shampo or there family talks about you beause there family is faking mental health illness because that gets them in a AC cell and they dont have to work, so I am glad there are nurse that will go there. Correct me if I am wrong, wasnt it a nurse who report this anyway. Not A co Or the the “runner”( you know his peers).

    You people shouldnt be so mean and why the hell are they getting any kind of cookie! THEY ARE IN PRISON and just like me if I cant buy a cookie. I dont get one. But I guess you think these people should have a choice because they couldnt make it in the real world.

    So dont blame these nurse because they deal with people who they cant tell are really sick or just good cons. And how do you know what kinda of care they get in the infirmary?

  29. truth Says:

    and please dont degrade me because my typing skill are not that great. I can spell. I did notice I but it where is should be a couple of times and miiss spell a couple of wards(oopps I did It again) Please dont call me names or beat me. WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF I THREW FECES ON YOU! I am almost sure these peoples “oath” did not state I wiil let someone throw feces on me and do nothing about it. And please dont tell me about this DR think this inmate already got alot of those to him it didnt seem to stop him!! And No Ocala I did not say they should ALLEGEDY beat him for two day but the officer and nurse ,that where taking care of him, who both got feces thrown on them should be able to do something back. Because it is apparent this person dose not understand that you just dont behave like that.

  30. Iron Triangle Says:

    TRUTH: By your own admission in post #14, you are either a DOC employee, or related to someone who is. Not at all surprising then is your biasness against inmates as a class.

    APRISONNURSE: For your own benefit, I might suggest you cease lying to yourself. Your statement that “We as DOC nurses give them the best healthcare that we could possible give them” is utter balderdash. You know it as well as anyone. The fact of the matter is that while there may be a few DOC nurses and doctors who yet employ the moral compass that led them to medical school, the vast majority of DOC nurses – and doctors too – abandoned its use within a short time of first reporting behind Florida prison walls.

    That the Florida DOC has a very long well-documented history of treating its inmates barbarically cannot be denied. As examples, consider the 1921 brutal murder of inmate Martin Tabert, gravely ill from infections, fevers and open sores caused by being forced to labor clearing swamps, was flogged to death by Convict Leasing Camp Whipping Boss Walter Higginbotham. Tabert’s prison offense: being too sick to do his day’s work. What landed him in prison: train hopping. Fast forward to the 1999 beating death of F.S.P. inmate Frank Valdes by Capt. Timothy Thornton, Sgt. Charles Brown, Sgt. Jason Griffis, Sgt. Andrew Lewis, and three officers.

    And that the prison officials committing such heinous crimes against inmates oftentimes get away with doing so is also undeniable. Martin Tabert’s DOC official murderer was acquitted at trial. So were Valdes’ murderers.

    Every problem has a root cause. The genesis to the problem of inmate abuse in the Florida prison system is geographically centralized educational bankruptcy. Sound far fetched? Consider this: the 18-year-old high school nerd drafted to serve his country in Viet Nam, was forced to become hardened and callous to human life. It was a matter of survival; he had to do it. Or consider the nuclear physicist attending a get-together of substantially less educated folk; he has to divert from plane on which he communicates with cardiologist and attorney friends in order to communicate with those struggling to pronounce multi syllable words. As a people, we are much like the chameleon; we change ourselves as necessary to best survive our environments.

    And so it is with the State of Florida’s DOC. Face it: the educational system in Florida is light years behind other state’s educational systems. What is taught in 7th or 8th grade elsewhere is oftentimes considered college level material in much of Florida. Case in point: many college educated professionals who attended the Florida school system can’t spell to save their lives and think an apostrophe belongs one letter from the end of every word ending in the letter “s”.

    Most bred and born Floridians who go to work for the DOC are educationally challenged. In many instances, it’s the carrying on of family tradition: “Grandpa John was warden at Union, Aunt Beatrice was canteen clerk at Lawtey, Papa Joe is a captain at F.S.P., Brother Bubba is a sergeant there, and by golly, I’m going to the training academy to become an officer too. Hell, I’ll get paid well and get good benefits too. And best of all, I kin be me a good ole boy en whoop ass whenever I wants ta.” It’s the mentality, particularly in The Iron Triangle. To deny it is to admit being one of the gang.

    And then come the corrections officials and medical personnel educated elsewhere. To their credit, those who are true professionals try to make a meaningful difference. But all too often they depart after a few short years, tiring quickly of co-workers – superiors included – who have not the capacity to understand that their Neanderthal-level penal methodologies soon make the 18-year-old kid serving three years for an ounce of weed a hardened criminal … one who then likely to recidivate following release. The remaining elsewhere-educated DOC employees fall deep into the good ole boy mentality so deeply ingrained in the system. Like the chameleon they change color; they succumb to fit in.

    Prisons were never meant to provide luxurious conditions of confinement. The Eastern System emphasized reform rather than punishment, though inhumanely taught through solitary confinement. Evolving, the Auburn System which followed emphasized rehabilitation through the teaching of personal discipline and respect of property and people through forced inmate silence. And then came the Elmira System, emphasizing rehabilitation and reform through educational and vocational training from staff. The Elmira system serves as the benchmark for modern day penology. Significantly, the states that have adopted Elmira System ideals have realized a substantial reduction in prison population, with a notable decrease in recidivism rates. Sadly, due to sub-par educational opportunities, Florida remains in the punitive mode; its good ole boys haven’t what it takes to realize that rehabilitation reaps better results than does retribution.

    Unless and until the State of Florida begins to realize the importance of properly educating its citizens, the murders, beatings, rapes and myriad other abuses of its inmates will doubtless continue. The inmates will keep becoming increasingly more violent; the preventable murders of well meaning correctional staff by inmates trained that violence is acceptable will continue.

    Say inmate abuse doesn’t run rampant throughout the Florida prison system. Those who do I invite to watch the Florida segment of Torture Inc. – America’s Brutal Prisons viewable at Part 1 at http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article8451.htm.

  31. FDOCEyes Says:

    Oh Truth – sit down somewhere and stop talking the nonsense you are talking. Cookie this & cookie that – feces this and feces that – if YOU have any clue as to how inmates are treated and beaten, than you wouldn’t be talking all the garbage outta your mouth. It’s just what Ocala said – right is right and wrong is wrong – if ANY of the officers at UCI don’t want to deal with inmates that have “mental” issues, than maybe they need to go work in another facility or just quit all together. They KNOW each day going to UCI that they are going to deal with inmates that have mental issues. The situation should never have been covered up or kept quiet. If YOU had gotten beat on a street corner and people saw it, would you like it if they kept quiet??? I would think not, you would expect someone to come forward which is exactly what these nurses should have done. For their faulty conduct, they were fired and should have been. Now they have time to sit back and reflect on their actions and realize they should have handled themselves and the situatin differently.

  32. truth Says:

    as I have said before I know people from both sides. Like you like to point out of generations of people releated in corrections. Also so I am sure that you are aware that are generations of offenders on the other side. I do so agree that these people should have something more to do than sit there, even mental health.(Who greets you at walmart?) The thing they most need to learn is how if you do something against the law or a other person to harm them there will be puishment. And I do agree that both sides should be taught better how to handle there selfs. But as you dont thing the feces thrower should pay for the rest of his life, Why should the Co and Nurse pay for the rest of their life for what they have been taught to do by generations? (ALLEGEDY) Shouldnt you be pointing out that they also need help? And I do so agree with you Iron The blame should be laid at the State Flordia and they should change the way they are ruuning things.

    FDOC, How do you have clue? I do know that at UCI 75% of inmates claiming to have mental health according to professionals are able to work and do not have to be in pt. But because people on the out side and lawyers they have to keep them in there.
    I also am aware that most of the in pt are alot younger and heailter than the ones who have to clean up behind them. How do I know? The camp is a elderly camp and the most of them in pt are 19-40. So you have a bunch of old men having to severe a bunch lazy men, who do nothing all day but sit in a cell except to go to tv time, medical,an outside in a cage. So if these people are well enough to do this why cant they work just like the eldlery? I got that info from some who use to wear blue. I get my info from both sides!

  33. CeCe Says:

    Oh dear God, where do these idiots arise from?
    I never threw feces or urine on anyone during my time inside, but yet I was beaten, lied on to justify those beatings, and then had “prison nurses” tell me I was not dying and hand me a Tylenol for my broken bones, and walk away from my confinement cell without any further regard. Gee, what was I in confinement for? Let me tell you…because I was “disciplined” for possession of contraband, inciting a riot, and creating a disturbance. What was the basis for such charges? I obtained in the mail from Florida Dept of Health, a letter stating that there was no record of such and such doctors and nurses having a valid medical license in Florida, as is required not only in FAC, but state law. This earned me 345 days in disciplinary confinement,loss of all gain time, removal from the desktop publishing program I was enrolled in,statements at my kangaroo court hearings that I did not use my time wisely so they would find me a new program assignment to keep me busy, and denial of a family visit because inmates in confinement are not allowed visits. This was the result of me filing grievances for being denied needed surgery to remove skin cancer I contracted while forced to work in the sun, without a hat,without sunscreen, and while taking a psychotropic medication which increased my sensitivity to direct, prolonged sunlight. What did I receive a beat down for while in confinement? I threw my dirty towel after a shower out into the hallway to be picked up for laundry the next morning because we were not allowed to keep such articles in our cells after an inmate died from hanging 2 weeks prior. Because I did not see the officer walking up the hall, the towel hit her when I threw it out of the open door before it was locked. It was an accident, not done on purpose. But you know what? She began calling for back-up saying she had been assaulted by me. 8 cops showed up, when I tried to explain what happened, I was called a liar and shoved against the wall to be handcuffed. They twisted my arm behind me back and when I ” resisted” (because I was trying to relieve the pain in my arm and tell them this at the same time)they threw me onto the floor and began to kick me in my sides and back, screaming at me that I am a low-life inmate and how dare I to assault any officer. My shoulder was dislocated, and my index finger was broken. My nose was bloody and I had numerous bruises that showed up the next day. And to this very day, I never once received any medical treatment from such caring and dedicated folks like truth and prisonnurse.
    So please don’t sit there and tell everyone how violated these officers feel because they get feces or urine thrown at or on them. And it certainly does not happen for a mere cookie not being on a tray. In my experience, the inmate most likely complained because he did not get a cookie and asked for one, but then was treated like the feces they claim is thrown, which in turn, starts a confrontation. And what is DOC’s favorite famous words? Can we say it together? “These are convicted criminals. Our officers are trained to respond accordingly. You have failed to demonstrate sufficient cause for this alleged incident to be investigated, your grievance is without merit and denied, you may appeal to the Office of the Secretary. These inmates are in confinement for a reason. These inmates feel like they should be treated like kings, and therefore many lawsuits are frivilous, without merit, and now we have new law that allows DOC to punish these inmates with loss of gain time, confinement, and even perjury, when their lawsuits are dismissed. And we get them dismissed because we make sure the inmate had no records of what really happened, but only records of what we want to show. And if we suspect the inmate has somehow gotten his hands on an incriminating record, we simply take it from him.” Welcome to the wonderful world of corrections. Or should I say corruption?

  34. Voice Says:

    I was reading some of the above after a friend mentioned this site. I find it amazing the contradictions in points of view from those who have lived the abuse and/or have loved ones suffering said abuse to those who are dolling it out or are related to the abusers. DOC is a miasma of corruption, cover ups, falsifications, malpractice and lies. Why can a female inmate go without toilet paper or sanitary napkins and when you complain you are threatened, ignored, or told to follow the grievance procedure. To anyone who does not know what this is, it is a costly paper trail that takes months, accomplishes nothing, and in my eyes is a waste of time and money. While incarcerated I had so many of these worthless approved grievances. Not only on issues such as toilet paper & sanitary napkins but on multiple medical concerns and never once accomplished anything, honestly I feel the bureau of grievance appeals had a macro just for me. I received the very same answer on so called Medical Grievances for 3 years and subsequently had to have three costly surgeries that could have been avoided if just treated which would have saved tax payers thousands of dollars. Now I’m getting away from myself. I also spent time in IMR, CSU, TSU and I can honestly say the only times I ever witnessed anyone throwing feces or bodily fluids those poor individuals should never have been sent to DOC they were truly extremely ill and only made worse in DOC. Ms.Nurse may say that inmates whine and complain, granted there are those that do but that happens in every day life also. The majority of inmates are terrified to go to medical and will only go if absolutely necessary. Inmates are curing MRSA (methicyllin resistant staphylococcus aureues) with bleach because they are scared of medical and tired of being told they are spider bites. Anyway I could tell you many horror stories on each side but when it comes to DOC staff and DOC medical personnel you are supposed to be professionals doing a job and medical personnel also take the Hippocratic oath. Not only do the inmates expect more from you but so should tax payers. Where is all the money going if Medical is at it’s worst, and facilities have nothing (clothes, toilet paper, hygiene’s, food, you can’t even get band aides or wound care). Where are the roofs BCI was supposed to get with all of the FEMA money. Why were male inmates brought into the institution to patch them while all female inmate’s suffered complete lock downs while they were on the compound. And please believe if you complain too much you will be placed under investigation for no reason and no probable cause indefinitely if the powers that be say so, and have a grudge. It happens all of the time.

  35. CeCe Says:

    How true, Voice, how true. I have lost count of how many times I was denied sanitary napkins by DOC employees and told to bleed on the floor for all they care, then “disciplined” when I would become upset about this denial.
    Yes, FEMA gave water, ice and food to DOC for the inmates housed at BCI during Hurricane Wilma. But did the inmates receive any of these items? NOT!!!! Instead the ice, water, and food were all issued to the officers residing in staff housing. Our drinking water was contaminated, unfit for human consumption,….DOC employees took the water and other supplies provided by FEMA for themselves and then put so much bleach in the water kegs for the inmates to drink that many inmates became ill from consuming it. But no one outside never hears of any of this kind of stuff. The “Klan-nish” mentality of most DOC employees strive to prevent inmates from getting this information to the outside world. This is because once tyhe extremes and barbarity of the unwarranted abuse of inmates gets out, FDLE starts asking questions, then they all start scrambling to keep those with information and who are willing to talk to the investigators from doing so. I was an aide for the impaired inmates in the infirmary and when an inmates died in the infirmary from lack of proper care (she died from an untreated, but curable infection) the nurses, warden and higher ups moved her body from the infirmary into the psych ward and then began shredding papers. I personally overheard medical staff saying they shredded her recent medical records and recreated medical files to give to the investigators from FDLE. Now, if nothing was wrong why was this type of thing done? When they realized I knew this information they cam e for me in the middle of the night and placed me in confinement under investigation for escape, claiming they found a rope made of infirmary sheets outside my cell window. This was done to prevent me from giving the investigators the information they sought into this inmate’s death. The point is that when the powers that be strive to cover up the wrong-doings and abuse of power, excessive use of force for non-existent infractions, the general public never knows about it because how can the world know if the mail, phones, and other forms of communications to and from the outside world are circumvented and censored?

  36. truth Says:

    You know I keep reading these stories of injustice in DOC. I even just had a family member get out of jail this week for being drunk in public. And when he got home compliaining about all these things (not as bad as you guys he was only there one night). My question to him was would he ever go back? His reply was “hell no I would die first”
    He went on to tell me how they wouldnt not let him bail his self out, the food was awful, to many people in one area no where to sleep, they threathen him because he kept talking to them about he could bail his self out. So you could understand he was not happy with me when I told him the only thing I want to know was did they do their job and make him not want to go back. If they did that for me I thing they need a raise because apparently when I told him not to drink in public he didnt understand. So for you that have severe time Do you ever want to go back? I hate that the things you complain of will be with you for a long time, but also hope that the next time what ever occured to get you there. You will remember all these things and take a different path next time. But facts show that it must not be to bad because most people return. And please dont tell me about how you didnt mean to do it, or it wasnt your fault. I came from a very bad backround but made it out because I made the choice I would never let them win and make me them.

  37. Voice Says:

    In all respect truth you are right in saying that the vast majority of inmates earned there way into the system. I know I did and I have never denied culpability hence the plea I took. For the many who stated their innocence repeatedly my comment was “boy it must suck to be here and be totally innocent” are there those who are??? Yes, and I feel any woman who defends herself or her children from repeated abuse should also be innocent or at least not have life sentences. Most women lifers never committed a crime other than self-defense. But in actuality most inmates don’t complain and whine. Most just wish to do their time and go home to get on with their lives. What we are complaining about is treatment that if we were animals people would be outside of the gates protesting; such as no running water, rooms infested with mold, toilets backed up, outbreaks of MRSA, staff that are too busy trying to sleep with anything that moves so they don’t do their jobs then when caught who suffers…..that’s right the inmates. Most inmates and again I’m speaking of the vast majority go about their daily prison lives day in and day out without these displays those such as DOC nurse speak of and that works both ways. Not only have I seen atrocities committed by DOC medical personnel HSA’s, CME’s, Nurse Practitioners but yes DOC nurses are also involved and aide the incompetence only they don’t disappear as often as the doctors, HSA’s, therapists, psychiatrists,and other personnel they live on and thrive in DOC with their cold hardened hearts. I have seen the kindest of staff turn jaded because low and behold they actually have to work. Yet hard working inmates and those of us released cannot find a job to save our lives because we are quote ex-felons/criminals. It effects every aspect of our lives: employment, housing, schooling, etc. Am I mad at myself for putting myself in this situation??? “Yes oh Yes” but seeing the difficulties and ex-offender faces day in and day out makes me realize why recidivism is at an all time high. I am fortunate in that I have a loving, supporting husband. I don’t know what I would have done otherwise. Just more food for thought but honestly I complain because I see the misappropriation of funds while my fellow human (inmate or otherwise) suffer still.

  38. robert Says:

    The one thing everyone seems to forget. The inamte’s at Florida State Prision and Unioun Co. Correctional earn their way there. They come from all the other Correctional Facility across the state of Florida, by becoming to violent or attack on staff, management problems. You sorry ass people convict and condemn these officers for dealing with those inamte’s on there level. I bet that most of you who wrote a blog on this website has never been in a prison or worked there, or was an inamte at one time an now you crying about what happened to you when you were lock up. But remember this inamte put yourself in there so keep your stupid ass coments to your self, until you been there and worked inside you have no clue. I find it funny you always here about an officer assulting an inmate, but never hear about how an inamte has assulted an officer. When you get up for work you don’t have to worry about getting boiling hot water thrown on you, or human bodliy fluids. I have the most respect for those officer’s. They may lose there temper and set out of line but there human. The inmate’s are in prison because of there actions, not because if you need to blame someone blame the inmate. Becuase if he/or she didn’t break the law they would not be there. An for those of you that has family in there. Maybe you should have been better parents or brothers or sisters or whatever. I have a family member lock up, I don’t feel sorry for him he put himself there so ha has to deal with it. And for all the liberals out that wants to baby these inamte’s well your just a victim waiting to be victimized. Thsoe inamte’s don’t care about anyone but them selves. If it was left up to me an sentence of 25 yrs is an automatic death sentence. A person comments murder they should have 5 yrs to from the date of sentence is the date of there exacution. Child molster should be shoot the day after there conviction. In closing if the punishment was stronger maybe crime would go down. And for all of you correctional officers, keep up the good work. From a Former Correctional Officer of Florida State Prision.

  39. Iron Triangle Says:

    ROBERT -

    Go get yourself an education. Your poor spelling and grammar really is torturous – equally as much so as the manner in which you and your neanderthal brethren treat inmates.

  40. dragonfly Says:

    Has anyone read an update on this story recently?

  41. robert Says:

    hey iron head I don’t give a damn about what you think. quite sucking your momma’s tit and try working at one of those place’s. You won’t last……..

  42. Iron Triangle Says:

    Okay Robert – or is it Roberta?

    The reason why you handcuff inmates before beating them down with an entire posse of other rednecks is because you’re scared to death an inmate would put it on you.

  43. Robert Says:

    iron head….it’s clear you have never worked inside a prison. I’m not a redneck or a member of the “good ole boys” club when I was there. Why don’t you apply for a job there so you can protect the poor helpless inmate’s you care for so much. They would turn you into a punk. Oh on last thing, I never hit an inmate with cuff’s on. You seem to be more of the cowardly type. Have a good day.

  44. the bull Says:

    Robert is absolutely correct, all you bleeding hearts have no idea how you ” loved ones ” act when you are not there to see their brutal behavior. Your ” loved ones ” are at a max security facility for one reason and only one, they cannot even be human beings around other inmates. Do your ” loved ones ” throw urine, feces, and sperm at you when you come to visit them ? Well, they sure as hell like to do it when you’re not there. To all you bleeding hearts, before you judge every correction officer, go through the training, get certified, and request to be positioned at a max security facility ( I guarantee they would love to have you there ) and see for your self how your ” beloved ones ” really conduct themselves, if not, you all are nothing more than left wing hypocrites, ( that would be you ” Iron Triangle ” )

  45. Iron Triangle Says:

    Bull -

    A “left wing hypocrite” I am far from. In fact, I lean much farther to the right than I do to the left when it comes to government. However, when it comes to abuse of fellow human beings – even those who have broken the law (and have been caught), I have no tolerance. To be sure, I find it repugnant to morality to have my hard earned tax dollars pay the salaries of government officials who can not or will not conduct themselves appropriately.

    I agree that many inmates are monsters, but not all are. At the same time, it is my belief that most corrections officials are well intentioned, but clearly there are some who are worse than the inmates they are paid to babysit.

    For your information: I have many friends working in many capacities inside prisons; from upper echelon administration, to security staff, to medical, to maintenance, to educational.

  46. the bull Says:

    Point is ” Iron Triangle ” you have NOT been inside a facility. ” Human beings ” is seldom relevant to the brutal nature of max facility inmates, usually far from the situation ( ever seen men commit homosexual acts to pay off a $ 5.00 football bet debt… i didn’t think so, nor do you want to ) so without ANY doubt, yourself, nor any OTHERS who have not been inside, and worked among ” loved ones ” are only giving UNINFORMED opinions that have no basis to the reality of daily grind inside a max facility. That is not my opinion, just the FACTS…

  47. Iron Triangle Says:

    “Point is ” Iron Triangle ” you have NOT been inside a facility.”

    Don’t be so sure of that, Mr. Bull.

  48. the bull Says:

    ah, sounds like a resident….. peace be with you brother, merry christmas

  49. Iron Triangle Says:

    Don’t be too sure of that either.

    Peace be with you also.

    Merry Christmas to you as well!

  50. the bull Says:

    female lawyer advocate ?

  51. Iron Triangle Says:

    It doesn’t matter whether I’m male or female, what my profession is, or how I gained my knowledge as to what occurs behind prison walls. But, I can assure you that I know the system well.

    Again, happy holidays to you, and to your family and friends also!

  52. the bull Says:

    ’twas the tatoo reference…. and same to you….

  53. Iron Triangle Says:

    To the best of my recollection, I never made any references to any tatoos.

  54. the bull Says:

    ’twas the post name reference…. but i still don’t think u have WORKED behind the walls… can’t deny that…. unless ur a prison inspector looking for some dirt… how am i doing ? first name vicky ? in that case u already know who i am….

  55. Iron Triangle Says:

    Nice try.

    My posts here (and elsewhere) show I am a knowledgeable and intelligent person.

    You may think what you choose. I’ll neither confirm nor deny.

    This will conclude our colloquy. I haven’t the time to waste playing cat and mouse games.

    tendo iterum nonnullus alius vicis

  56. the bull Says:

    Touche’ Au, Revior Mon Fre’re

  57. the bull Says:

    without reservation ” Iron Triangle” i do wish you a Merry Christmas & Happy New Year…….

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