Scott locks down ‘Lockup’ filming in Panhandle prisonby Dara Kam | August 18th, 2011
Scott’s office this week canceled the contract. Department of Corrections Ed Buss had agreed to allow the film crew to shoot at Santa Rosa Correctional Institution in Milton for about two months. The department would have received about $110,000 for the disruption.
Buss lacked the authority to sign the contract, Scott spokesman Brian Burgess said, because it did not deal with the day-to-day operations of the state prison system.
Late last week, Buss’s office issued a press release touting the filming of the reality show in which prisoners, often heavily-tattooed, reveal what life is like behind bars.
A team from 44 Blue, the production company in charge of the series about life behind bars, began filming last week at the Milton facility. The series was scheduled to run sometime next year.
Buss worked with the production company while at his previous post as Indiana’s prisons chief.
“I have no qualms about them coming into our prisons. I’m proud of our staff and how well our facilities are run, and I hope this will help Floridians understand the challenges we face with our inmate population, as well as the benefits prisons provide to their communities through our programs and re-entry efforts,” Buss said in a press release last week. The release said Buss gave the film crew “unprecedented access” to inmates and staff who agreed to be on film.
Sources within Buss’s office said the warden sent the film crew home yesterday after hearing from Scott’s office.
Buss failed to vet the contract with Scott’s executive staff before signing it, Burgess said.
“The feeling is that it was outside the scope of the Department of Corrections purview to engage the state in an entertainment-related contract,” Burgess said. “Right now the “Lockup” contract is locked up and I don’t’ know if it’s going to be unlocked. It’s not going forward at this point.”
The contract was canceled the same week the department rescinded requests for proposals for privatizing health services in all of the state’s prisons.