Florida prisons not impacted by coronavirus — for now

PRISON STOCK PHOTO (11)
Clean bill of health?

When it comes to the coronavirus, no news is good news.

The Department of Corrections asserted this week that there were “no known cases” of “confirmed COVID-19 within its correctional institutions at this time.”

The department is “closely monitoring developments” and “is fully prepared to handle any potential cases of COVID-19 within the state operated correctional institutions in Florida.”

If the prison system indeed is coronavirus free, and stays that way, it likely can be framed as validation for policies undertaken.

Arguably the most controversial is the decision to block visitation through April 5.

The decision, the department said last week, was to “minimize the potential risk to the inmate population and staff … This decision has been made in close consultation with our partners at the Florida Department of Health and with correctional best practices being reviewed nationwide.”

Mail, phone calls, and “video visitation” are alternative options. Roughly two dozen states have already suspended visitation.

FDC offered some perks to inmates including a free video visitation session and 30 minutes of phone calls.

“When physical visits are impossible or inconvenient, JPay’s Video Visitation lets you talk face-to face with your incarcerated friend or relative from the comfort of your own home. When you can’t be there, this is the next best thing,” promotional copy asserts.

This requires technology.

Recommended: “The JP5 family of tablets are the next generation of corrections-grade tablet computing. Having one of these tablets helps your loved ones pass the time, and stay connected to you.”

The prison population is stabilized.

Among the restrictions: “Outside inmate work squads have been restricted. FDC will continue to coordinate efforts with FDOT. All non-critical inmate transfers have been suspended. New commitments and intakes have been restricted.”

Different governments handle the coronavirus and prisons in different ways.

Iran has gotten notice for letting prisoners out. In Florida, the solution is to keep the prisoners in and keep the spaces coronavirus free.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at AG@FloridaPolitics.com


7 comments

  • KAREN ANN LEE

    March 20, 2020 at 12:55 pm

    My Son is currently in Putam CI and is set to be released 6/28/20. The conditions and sickness that is occuring in this prison is not accurate. In late Jan of this year..My Son and his dorm were all very very ill..1 inmate age 40 died of complication due to this sickness. I am not sure if inmates have even been tested for this virus. I have never known my son to be as sick as he was he thought at one point he was going to die the treatment power aid Ibeprofen he was coughing blood with a medallic taste in his mouth fever chills headaches and more a very nasty virus he is 42 yrs old..many inmates were so weak and sick they were unable to get off there cots. And inmates are still getting sick. They are packed and housed in close quarters a disaster for spreading the disease. I wish the they would think about releasing inmates early that have 3-6 months left on there sentence..they are coming back home in a few months anyhow. The overcrowding in Florida Prisons is a well known fact and at this time is dangerous and very costly. I wish someone could bring this to the attention to our President and his Team. Its pretty common sense approach to help save lives. My husband and I are both disabled in our 60s we need our Son Home. Thank you and I pray something will be done.

    • Kim

      March 22, 2020 at 7:57 pm

      Yes I agree, they have taken some and quarantine them into a different part of prison. I know that virus is going to happen. It’s like people are waiting to watch it happen. It’s sad. Something needs to be done.

  • Alexandria Zecher

    March 24, 2020 at 11:29 am

    My husband is currently stuck in St John’s county for a hold in Port St. Lucie for driving on a suspended license because I was too tired to drive after 15 hours and had to nurse our baby in the backseat. He missed court because the jails in the surrounding counties kept taking their time with him only to drop charges with no prejudice. So he was issued a bench warrant and now they are saying he’s just going to have to sit in jail until they figure something out. They are holding low level offenders for NOTHING. I have MS and am immunocompromised along with our youngest child has issues with febrile seizures. I’ve lost both my jobs due to COVID-19 and am stuck trying to take care of our 3 kids. He was innocent from the start and now they are still refusing to let him come home and take care of his family. They are taking away the rights of inmates during this time and it’s completely abhorrent. We need to get our petty offenders OUT so they can be with their families! The least they could do is give him a bond!

    • Isabel Rincon

      March 24, 2020 at 3:42 pm

      One officer at Marion County Prison tested positive for Corona Virus

      • Judy

        March 27, 2020 at 3:44 pm

        My brother is at merion too they r all worried 75 to a room 30″ apart. If u have any idea how we can get them help let me no he only has 6 months left

  • Unknown

    March 27, 2020 at 7:15 pm

    They have stopped visitation! Stopped family furloughs. Even stopped “work squads”. They say all to control the spread of the virus. Yet they still make inmates go to work in work release! Unable to see their families! But can ride public transportation and work with strangers all day. In a county that’s a hot spot! Not only is it a risk to the inmate. But all the staff as well. It’s quite insane!

    • robin mcdowell

      March 28, 2020 at 10:49 pm

      can you call me 612-213-7132. i’m a reporter and interested in hearing what’s going on. thanks, robin

Comments are closed.


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