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Florida prisons not impacted by coronavirus — for now

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.

Written By

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

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Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Renzo Downey, Rick Flagg, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Bob Sparks, Andrew Wilson, and Kelly Hayes.
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