Post Date: March 24, 2017
Originally seen in Miami Herald
Warning that inmate health and safety is at risk at the state’s largest privately run women’s prison, Rep. David Richardson on Thursday asked Gov. Rick Scott to use his emergency powers to replace the top officers and take state control of Gadsden Correctional Facility.
In a letter delivered late Thursday, Richardson asked Scott “to direct the Florida Department of Corrections to install a temporary warden, chief of security and other resources you deem necessary to restore order and reverse what I can only describe as a loss of institutional control.”
Richardson, a Miami Beach Democrat and retired forensic auditor, has been on a one-man mission to force change in Florida’s troubled prison system. After several surprise inspections in the last month with investigators from the Department of Corrections and the state’s Office of the Chief Inspector General, he concluded that Gadsden prison faces “significant inmate health and safety concerns” and that management has repeatedly retaliated “against inmates for discussing matters with me.”
Gadsden Correctional is a medium-security prison that houses 1,544 female inmates and is one of seven privately run facilities in the state. Gadsden is the only Florida prison managed by Management Training Corp. of Centerville, Utah.
Scott, whose staff was briefed by Richardson on Wednesday about his concerns, said he had not seen the letter and would not comment.
Issa Arnita, communicators director for Management Training Corp., told the Herald/Times that the company will “continue to address the ongoing maintenance issues” but is “not aware of any emergency action.”
Department of Corrections spokesperson Ashley Cook said the agency is conducting a health and safety inspection at the prison but deferred all questions to the Department of Management Services, which monitors the state’s private prisons.