At least through this weekend, all of Florida’s 97,000 prison inmates at 50 major institutions will be confined to their cells/dorms on lockdown. The Florida Department of Corrections is doing this due to the unspecified threats of riots jumping off. According to the Miami Herald, the lockdown will affect “private prisons, youthful offender facilities, as well as annexes, work camps and re-entry centers.” Juvenile centers will not be affected. This is the first time this has ever happened for an indefinite period of time.
Prison officers, including new recruits, were all called in on Thursday to carry out searches for weapons and other contraband that the prisoners may have (new recruit graduations have been cancelled). Probation officers have also been called in. There will also be no visitations and all educational, vocational, rehabilitation, ministry and recreation programs have been scrapped until further notice. No other “basic privileges” are supposed to be affected by the lockdown.
The FDC has not clarified what the threats were that they were made aware of, “other than that the department had received ‘credible intelligence’ that ‘small groups’ of inmates were planning to cause disturbances.”
“Everything we are doing is based on the safety of the institutions, the staff and the inmates,” said FDC spokeswoman Michelle Glady, .
She added, “These steps are being taken out of an abundance of caution.”
“When it’s statewide — that is really serious business. They must have a verified threat of some kind to take that step,’’ said former Florida prison warden-turned-consultant Ron McAndrew.
The Herald reports:
FDC’s intelligence division received information that the threats may be timed to coincide with the “Millions for Prisoners’ Human Rights” rally on Saturday in Washington. The loosely organized event is being billed on social media as a way to raise awareness about mass incarceration and human rights violations in prisons across the country.
Inmates will not be confined to their dorms for the entire time, though. They will be let out for meals.
According to the report, violence among inmates (most notably those in gangs) is at an all-time high in Florida prisons. Over the past several months, C.O.’s have been beaten and stabbed and a number of prisoners have been killed.