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Judge orders Scott admin to ‘cease and desist’ prison privatization bidding

Saturday, November 5th, 2011 by Dara Kam

A Tallahassee judge has ordered Gov. Rick Scott‘s administration to “cease and desist” the bidding process for a prison privatization plan she earlier ruled was unconstitional.

Tallahassee Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford late Friday night put the brakes on Department of Corrections officials’ attempt to bypass her earlier decision that the way lawmakers ordered the privatization of the 18-county region in the southern portion of the start violated the state constitution.

In her order, Fulford pointed out that corrections officials reneged on a pledge made Thursday not to move forward with the bidding before a Nov. 16 hearing. Later the same day, the department announced it was reopening the procurement and bids would be accepted after Nov. 10, Fulford wrote.

Fulford ruled on Sept. 30 that lawmakers should not have included the privatization plan in the must-pass state budget but instead should have ordered it in a stand-alone bill.

Scott opted not to appeal, but Attorney General Pam Bondi filed a last-minute appeal late Monday on behalf of state lawmakers, setting the stage for Friday’s court showdown.

In granting the emergency stay to the Florida Police Benevolent Association, Fulford wrote that “defendants are not likely to succeed on the merits on appeal.”

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UPDATE: Scott administration moves forward with prison privatization despite court ruling

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011 by Dara Kam

UPDATE: Tallahassee Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford will hold a hearing at 4:30 p.m. today on the privatization lawsuit. The Florida Police Benevolent Association is asking for an emergency stay to stop the procurement process.

Gov. Rick Scott‘s administration has re-opened bids on privatizating prisons in an 18-county region in southern Florida despite a recent court ruling that the way lawmakers ordered the privatization plan is unconstitutional.

Scott opted not to appeal. But Attorney General Pam Bondi on Monday filed an appeal on behalf of the legislature challenging Tallahassee Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford’s ruling. That appeal opened the door for state Department of Corrections officials to re-open the bids, Department of Corrections officials said in a press release issued late Thursday.

Bids will be due within a week but because of the ongoing court battle “the agency will not sign a contract until the litigation is complete,” the release said.

The Florida Police Benevolent Association, which filed the lawsuit, intends to ask the First District Court of Appeals for an expedited hearing and is asking Fulford to reinstate the stay on the bids she previously ordered.

Boca Raton-based GEO Group is one of the contenders for the privatization plan intended to cost the state 7 percent less than what the department is currently spending on the region’s 29 prisons and other correctional operations.
Read the corrections department press release after the jump.

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Legislators appeal prison privatization ruling

Monday, October 31st, 2011 by Dara Kam

Lawmakers have appealed a Tallahassee judge’s ruling that the way they ordered the privatization of prisons in the southern portion of the state was unconstitutional.

Attorney General Pam Bondi filed the appeal late Monday, the last day an appeal could be made. Gov. Rick Scott, whose administration was named in the lawsuit, decided not to appeal Tallahassee Circuit Court Judge Jackie Fulford’s decision.

But lawmakers, who included the privatization of 29 prisons and correctional operations in the 18-county region south of Polk County in the state budget passed this spring, asked Bondi to appeal on their behalf.

“Not only is the privatization of our state’s prisons good policy, but it ensures that our state can dedicate more money to education, health care or economic development programs that would otherwise be spent on prisons,” Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, who pushed the appeal, said in a statement.

Matt Puckett of the Florida Police Benevolent Association, the union representing correctional and probational workers which filed the lawsuit, said his group is “prepared to take this all the way to the Supreme Court.”

Scott won’t appeal prison privatization ruling

Monday, October 31st, 2011 by Dara Kam

Gov. Rick Scott won’t appeal a circuit court judge’s ruling that a sweeping prison privatization plan included by state lawmakers in the budget is unconstitutional. Scott has until today to appeal the decision.

Read The Palm Beach Post story about why lawmakers would rather not appeal Tallahassee Circuit Court Judge Jackie Fulford’s ruling that the way lawmakers went about the privatization plan, later signed into law by the first-term governor, was unconstitutional.

Scott told the Florida News Network early this afternoon he won’t appeal and that the plan will now go back to lawmakers, who are expected to pass it during their regular session that begins in January, then defended the proposal that would have required a single vendor to take over an 18-county region in South Florida, including 29 prisons and other corrections operations, for 7 percent less than what the Department of Corrections is now spending.

“We’re not going to file an appeal. It goes back to the legislature. But let’s all remember what we’re doing here,” Scott said at the airport before flying to Titusville for a Kennedy Space Center jobs announcement.

“You as a consumer, you expect your government to be efficient, right? You don’t want your government to waste money. So all that’s happening is your state legisalture with my support is saying look let’s figure out how we can save money. Let’s do the best job we can but let’s also make sure we’re not wasting taxpayer dollars. That’s what that program was supposed to do. So I’m hopeful that we’ll continue to do that,” Scott said. “We have a billion to $2 billion deficit this year….We’ve got to look at all the opportunities we can to do a gret job for the taxpayers of the state of Florida but not waste their money.”

The Florida Police Benevolent Association, which filed the lawsuit, applauded Scott’s decision, saying it would save 3,600 correctional workers’ jobs.

“The Florida PBA is pleased that Governor Scott and legislative leaders decided not to move forward with appealing the Court’s ruling that the legislature’s attempt to privatize public facilities through the budget was unconstitutional,” PBA executive director Matt Puckett said in a statement. “Now we need to educate the public and the legislature on the significant public safety issues and lack of significant savings associated with the privatization issue.”

Teamsters accuse Florida corrections department of wage theft

Thursday, October 13th, 2011 by Dara Kam

The Teamsters Union is accusing the Florida Department of Corrections of cheating prison workers out of nearly an hour of pay each day, according to a complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Labor yesterday.

But the Florida Police Benevolent Association, the union that now represents the state’s 20,000 correctional and probational officers, counters that the Teamsters, in an elections battle with the PBA over the prison workers, are “showboating.”

The one-page complaint, filed in Orlando, alleges the state is in violation with federal labor laws because correctional officers are not being paid for the time it takes for them to go through security and receive equipment such as pepper spray before they can clock in to work. They also have to clock out before dropping off the equipment at the end of the day, according to the complaint. The Teamsters are asking the Labor Department to investigate the practice.

“Correctional officers suffer because of wage theft by the FDOC and also because they have had no pay increases for the past seven years,” said Michael Filler, director of the Teamsters Public Services Division. “All officers who put in a fair’s day work are legally entitled to a fair day’s pay.”

Federal courts in other cases have ruled that the time spent before clocking in is compensable, the complaint says.

But the PBA executive director Matt Puckett said the Teamsters’ latest complaint is just grand-standing because the U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled on the issue.
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Shake-up at DOC continues: chief of staff Ronay gone

Thursday, October 6th, 2011 by Dara Kam

The exodus following the ouster of former Department of Corrections Secretary Ed Buss continued this week: Buss’s chief of staff Dan Ronay quit his $120,000-a-year job yesterday.

The department’s spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger said new DOC chief Ken Tucker accepted Ronay’s resignation yesterday, but did not say whether he was asked to step down.

Ronay was one of more than a dozen staffers Buss brought with him from Indiana, where Buss served as corrections chief. Gov. Rick Scott forced Buss to resign in August in the midst of a prison privatization effort ordered by the legislature that a Tallahassee judge recently ruled was unconstitutional because it was included in the budget instead of in a stand-alone bill.

Buss was fired late in August but will remain on the state payroll earning $145,000 until October to help with the transition, according to Scott’s office.

Scott agrees with judge: Lawmakers should keep policy out of the budget

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Although he supports prison privatization and is committed to a broad expansion of it in Florida, Gov. Rick Scott said he disapproves of the legislature’s use of the state budget to establish policy – exactly how lawmakers ordered the privatization this spring.

“I should have the power to veto things that are major policy changes. I got elected as governor to mamke decisions on behalf of all the citizens of the state and to watch how all the money was spent. I ran a whole campaign on accountability,” Scott told reporters after Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting.

Scott appeared to be siding with a Tallahassee judge who ruled last week that the legilsature’s inclusion of the prison privatization effort in the state budget was unconstitutional.

In her ruling against Scott’s administration last week, Tallahassee Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford wrote that, if the legislature wanted to expand the prison privatization, it “must do so by general law, rather than ‘using the hidden recesses of the General Appropriations Act.’”

Scott said he hasn’t decided yet whether to appeal Fulford’s ruling, but was confident the 18-county region privatization of 29 prisons ordered by lawmakers would eventually take place.

“We’re going to do prison privatization in the state as long as we save money. I believe that we’re going to save a lot of money,” he said. During his campaign for governor, Scott said he wanted to slash prison spending by $1 billion – about half of DOC’s total budget.

Still, Scott said he’d like it if lawmakers restrict the budget to spending matters.

“That would be nice,” he said.

Judge rules prison privatization plan unconstitutional

Friday, September 30th, 2011 by Dara Kam

A Tallahassee circuit court judge has ruled that the prison privatization plan included by lawmakers in the state budget is unconstitutional.

Tallahassee Judge Jackie Fulford agreed with the Florida Police Benevolent Association, the union representing correctional workers that filed the lawsuit, that the way the legislature ordered the privatization violated state law.

The privatization of 29 prisons in the southern portion of the state from Manatee County to Indian River County to the Florida Keys should have been mandated in a separate bill and not in proviso language in the budget, as lawmakers did in the must-pass budget approved in May and signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott, Fulford ruled.

“This Court concludes that if it is the will of the Legislature to itself initiate privatization of Florida prisons, as opposed to DOC, the Legislature must do so by general law, rather than ‘using the hidden recesses of the General Appropriations Act,’” Fulford wrote in her order issued Friday morning.

Lawmakers ordered the Department of Corrections to request bids for a single contract for the 18-county region, requiring that the winning vendor spend 7 percent less than current costs to operate the prisons, an estimated $22 million annual savings.

But under existing law, Fulford wrote, lawmakers must include a specific amount of money for the contract “after a decision to outsource is made and evaluated by DOC for feasibility, cost effectiveness, and efficiency, before DOC proceeds with any outsourcing of services.”

Former DOC secretary Ed Buss testified that he had created no such plan and was relying on the proviso language in the budget to move the privatization forward before he was fired by Scott last month.

“As such, the Legislature has by-passed the very safeguards it built into the process that DOC is required to follow when DOC initiates privatization pursuant to substantive law,” Fulford wrote.

In the proviso language, lawmakers also ordered that a private vendor take over the prisons by Jan. 1.

“From the record, it appears that the rush to meet the deadlines in the proviso has resulted in many shortcomings in the evaluation of whether privatization is in the best public interest as it relates to cost savings and effective service,” Fulford wrote.

Fulford made it clear that the state – which already has six privately-run prisons, including one in Palm Beach County – can expand prison privatization.

But, she ruled, “the Legislature may not change existing substantive law by a proviso in an appropriations act.”

Over Gov. Scott’s objections, ousted prisons chief gives deposition in prison privatization lawsuit

Monday, September 26th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Despite Gov. Rick Scott’s attempts to quash his testimony, former Department of Corrections Secretary Ed Buss this afternoon spent two-and-a-half hours answering questions under oath for a lawsuit about a prison privatization effort ordered by lawmakers this spring.

Lawyers for the Florida Police Benevolent Association, who filed the lawsuit against Scott’s administration, had sought Buss’s testimony before a hearing slated for Thursday morning. The hearing will focus on the PBA’s allegation that the privatization of 29 prisons from Manatee County to Indian River County south to the Florida Keys was unconstitutional because it was included at the last minute in the must-pass state budget, which the PBA contends is intended to deal strictly with spending rather than policy.

Reached by telephone, Buss refused to comment.

Last week, the First District Court of Appeals ordered that Buss give his deposition, upholding a lower court decision that the ousted secretary – fired by Scott last month – had unique information related to the privatization effort. Both courts rejected arguments by Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawyers, representing Scott, that high-ranking officials – almost always named as defendants in court cases – should be immune from having to testify when information is available elsewhere.

The PBA contends its lawyers have been unable to get the information they need from e-mails requested from the corrections department.

PBA executive director Matt Puckett said that lawmakers’ gave Buss explicit directions on how the privatization would be handled but at the same time gave him carte blanche over a separate privatization of all of the agency’s health care services for inmates.

“He just wasn’t consulted,” Puckett said.

Appeals court denies Scott request for second review on deposition of ousted prisons chief

Friday, September 23rd, 2011 by Dara Kam

The First District Court of Appeals rejected Gov. Rick Scott‘s request for a second review of a three-judge panel’s order yesterday that former corrections chief Ed Buss give a deposition in lawsuit over prison privatization.

The appellate court ordered Buss’s testimony yesterday after temporarily halting it last week. The Florida Police Benevolent Association, the union that represents corrections workers, filed the lawsuit over the privatization of prisons in the southern portion of the state.

Lawmakers included the privatization of the 18-county region from Manatee County to Indian River County south to the Florida Keys in proviso language inserted into the budget in the waning days of the session that ended in May. The union argued in the lawsuit that the privatization effort is unconstitutional because the must-pass budget is intended to deal solely with spending – not policy – matters.

A Tallahassee circuit judge ordered that Buss give his deposition, rejecting an appeal from Attorney General Pam Bondi, who represents Scott’s administration.

A three-judge appellate panel temporarily halted the deposition last week but yesterday ordered that Buss, who was dismissed by Scott last month, comply. Within hours, Scott appealed to the full court. This morning, that appeal was rejected.

Scott’s lawyers are arguing that high-ranking officials, named in most lawsuits against the state, are exempt from having to testify in every case.

Scott spokesman Lane Wright said yesterday the governor is fighting the deposition because of the precedent it could set.

“It’s not about this specific case. It’s about all cases. The doctrine protecting high-ranking officials from being deposed is a bedrock principle of Florida law. It’s about the principle of the thing,” Wright said.

No word yet from Scott’s office on whether they intend to take the case over the deposition to the Florida Supreme Court.

UPDATE: Appeals court orders ousted prisons chief to give deposition in privatization lawsuit

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011 by Dara Kam

UPDATE: Gov. Rick Scott has appealed the appellate ruling ordering former DOC Secretary Ed Buss to give a deposition in the prison privatization lawsuit. Scott’s lawyers are asking that the full First District Court of Appeals reconsider yesterday’s three-judge panel’s ruling.
Scott spokesman Lane Wright said the governor’s office is appealing the decision about the deposition on principle because state law gives high-ranking officials immunity from testifying in lawsuits.
“It’s not about this specific case. It’s about all cases. The doctrine protecting high-ranking officials from being deposed is a bedrock principle of Florida law. It’s about the principle of the thing,” Wright said.

An appeals court ordered former Department of Corrections Secretary Ed Buss, ousted by Gov. Rick Scott last month, to testify in a lawsuit over prison privatization filed by the union that represents correctional officers.

The First District Court of Appeals in Tallahassee had temporarily halted Buss’s deposition last week, overturning a lower court ruling ordering him to be deposed by the Florida Police Benevolent Association, which filed the lawsuit.

But yesterday the appellate court agreed that Buss must give his deposition. Scott’s administration tried to block Buss’s testimony because Florida law protects high-ranking officials from having to testify in most court cases.

On Sept. 15, Tallahassee Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford ordered Buss to give his deposition, agreeing with the union in her ruling that the former secretary is “reasonably likely to have unique discoverable knowledge of potentially relevant subject matter.”

Scott forced Buss to resign late last month citing “differences in philosophy and management styles arose which made the separation in the best interests of the state.” One of the reasons for Buss’s ouster was his apparently less-than-enthusiastic support of the privatization of the 30 prisons from Manatee County to Indian River County south to the Keys.

Lawmakers ordered all of the prisons in the 18-county region south of Polk County to the Florida Keys to be taken over by a private vendor in the budget passed this spring. The PBA is objecting that including the policy change in the must-pass spending plan is unconstitutional.

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Judge orders ousted DOC secretary Buss to testify in prisons lawsuit

Thursday, September 15th, 2011 by Dara Kam

A judge ordered former Department of Corrections Secretary Ed Buss to testify in a lawsuit about the state’s privatization of prisons in the southern part of Florida.

Tallahassee Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford denied the state’s request to keep Buss, fired by Gov. Rick Scott late last month, from having to give a deposition in the lawsuit filed by the Florida Police Benevolent Association.

Buss left the agency amid the privatization of more than one-third of the state’s prisons, the largest privatization effort in the country.

His abrupt resignation came after Scott’s office twice rebuked the former Indiana prisons chief over state contracts and after the termination of a contract with Elizabeth “Betty” Gondles, one of Buss’s hand-picked aides, for a possible conflict of interest with the privatization of the department’s health services.

Attorney General Pam Bondi, representing Scott’s administration in the lawsuit, argued that, because he is no longer secretary, Buss should not have to give a deposition.

But Fulford sided with the PBA, saying that Buss is “reasonably likely to have unique discoverable knowledge of potentially relevant subject matter” and that the PBA had tried unsuccessfully to get the information elsewhere.

The PBA is challenging the privatization, alleging that it is unconstitutional because it was included in proviso language in the state budget instead of a stand-alone bill creating state policy.

A hearing is scheduled for Sept. 29.

Scott locks down ‘Lockup’ filming in Panhandle prison

Thursday, August 18th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Santa Rosa C.I. Lt. Andrew Williams and film crew

More than a week after they began filming at a Panhandle prison, Gov. Rick Scott sent MSNBC‘s “Lockup” crew packing.

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.

MSNBC ‘Lockup’ crew headed to FL prison

Thursday, August 11th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Santa Rosa C.I. Lt. Andrew Williams and film crew

Florida officials have opened the gates at a Panhandle prison to MSNBC‘s “Lockup” film crew for two months, according to a Department of Corrections press release.

A team from 44 Blue, the production company in charge of the series about life behind bars, began filming this week at Santa Rosa Correctional Institution in Milton this month, the release said.

DOC Secretary Ed Buss worked with the production company in his previous post as head of Indiana prisons.

“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 the release.

The film crew will have “unprecedented access” to inmates and staff who want to be on film, the release said. The prison houses up to 1,614 adult males of all custody levels, including some with mental health issues, according to the release.

The series is expected to go on the air sometime next year.

State shutting down three prisons

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Florida’s new corrections department secretary is shutting down three prisons, two boot camps and a road prison.

DOC Secretary Edwin Buss said the closures will save the state $30.8 million this year and $25 million annually in the future.

The Department will close the Brevard Correctional Institution (CI) in Cocoa, Hendry CI in Immokalee, Hillsborough CI in Riverview, Tallahassee Road Prison in Tallahassee, Lowell CI Boot Camp and Sumter Boot Camp. Additionally the Department will move close management inmates out of Charlotte CI in Punta Gorda to three other prisons.

The department has a surplus of beds for the first time in recent history.

The phase out plan will begin immediately with a target completion date of June 30, 2011.

Scott admin bans smoking in prisons

Monday, March 14th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Gov. Rick Scott’s administration is snuffing out smoking in prisons, saying the habit cost taxpayers $9 million in smoking-related prisoner illnesses last year.

Department of Corrections Secretary Edwin Buss said in a press release this morning he’s giving inmates six months to quit before the smoking ban goes into effect. The department will offer smoking cessation programs to inmates asking for help quitting, according to the release.

Prison workers will be allowed to smoke in designated areas outside the prison fences.

Police union attack ad says Scott is scary

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010 by Dara Kam

The Florida Police Benevolent Society released a 30-second TV ad today bashing GOP gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott’s plan to cut $1 billion from spending on prisons to trim the budget.

A corrections department spokeswoman said Scott’s proposal would wind up shuttering prisons. Shutting down prisons would, of course, result in pink slips for union workers.

The ad says that, under Scott’s plan, “tens of thousands of prisoners could be released early, including murderers, rapists, sex offenders, armed robbers and drug dealers.” It ends with a group of tough-looking men in stripes reciting Scott’s campaign slogan, “Let’s get to work!”

The PBA and the state’s other law enforcement union, the Fraternal Order of Police, are both backing Scott’s Democrat opponent, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink.

Monday, August 16th, 2010 by Dara Kam

Former Rep. Loranne Ausley, isn’t waiting until the primaries are over to bash her GOP opponent – Senate prison-to-nowherePresident Jeff Atwater – in the race for state CFO.

Ausley’s blasting Atwater’s voting record on spending issues in an attempt to paint the North Palm Beach banker as a Tallahassee insider (Ausley spent eight years in the Florida House and whose family has ties to the late Gov. Lawton Chiles) out of touch with Floridians.

Ausley’s latest attack slammed Atwater for a program that did away with 71 prison work squad jobs and created a controversial new private prison in the Panhandle.

Ausley dubbed the Blackwater River Correctional Institution, run by Boca Raton-based Geo Group, the “Prison to Nowhere” that cost taxpayers $110 million during this year’s budget-slashing session. According to the Florida Department of Corrections, which fiercely opposed opening the prison this early, the prison work squads saved taxpayers $35.7 million.

“Senate President Jeff Atwater’s ‘prison to nowhere’ is yet another product of the broken system in Tallahassee, and once again Florida taxpayers are stuck with the bill,” said Ausley. “Floridians are fed up with politicians who play by their own rules with our money. Whether it’s the ‘Tallahassee Taj Mahal,’ the ‘Prison to Nowhere’ or an airport hanger for a political contributor, politicians in Tallahassee need to be held accountable.”

Ausley last week slammed Atwater for supporting a new District Court of Appeals courthouse building in Tallahassee, which she called the ‘Taj Mahal.’

Prisons chief suspends two guards over inmate collapse

Thursday, May 27th, 2010 by Dara Kam

dreadDepartment of Corrections Secretary Walt McNeil suspended two prison guards involved in the collapse of 20-year-old inmate Samuel Dread who remains in critical condition after exercising on Monday.

McNeil placed correctional officers Sgt. Michael Devanie and James Barry on administrative leave with pay after learning of “conflicting witness statements,” according to a press release issued by McNeil’s office this morning.

Dread collapsed after exercising for several hours in the 86 degree heat as part of an extended day program at Lancaster Correctional Institution near Gainesville on Monday, his first day at the boot-camp style program for youthful offenders. Dread remains in critical condition after being placed into a medically-induced coma.

“Out of an abundance of caution, I have placed these officers on administrative leave until this issue is resolved. The mission of this department is public safety, and that includes the safety of our 102,000 inmates, a responsibility I take very seriously,” said McNeil. “If any wrongdoing has occurred, appropriate, swift action will be taken. In the meantime, these officers will have no further contact with inmates.”

Gov. Charlie Crist ordered the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate the incident, saying there are questions about whether prescription medications Dread was taking required him to avoid extreme heat.

“I have every assurance that the investigation will be thorough and complete and at the conclusion we’ll know all the facts in this case,” McNeil said in a statement.

Read related story on PalmBeachPost.com

UPDATE: Young inmate collapses after exercise, prison officials investigating

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010 by Dara Kam

UPDATE: Gov. Charlie Crist’s office asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate the collapse of the inmate, identified as 20-year-old Samuel Dread.
dread

An inmate is in critical condition after collapsing on Monday during exercises at Lancaster Correctional Institution near Gainesville, Department of Corrections Secretary Walt McNeil told reporters at a hastily-scheduled press conference early this morning.

The unidentified inmate, a male between the ages of 18 and 24, collapsed on his first day at the youthful offender facility which uses a boot-camp style program in which inmates exercise outdoors from early in the morning until nightfall, DOC officials said.

McNeil said he asked the agency’s inspector general to investigate the incident and that the inmate is now in a private hospital in critical condition. He also said he is considering changing the department’s policy requiring strenuous exercise in extreme heat.

The department’s response to the incident is a departure from the 2006 death of Martin Lee Anderson, a 14-year-old who collapsed and died after being beaten by guards after collapsing during exercises on his first day at the now-defunct Bay County Boot Camp in the Panhandle.

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