Working in DOC is like working for a “3rd world… sweat shop”

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FLORIDA PUBLIC EMPLOYEES

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Conservative, Allison DeFoor, tells Senate Criminal Justice Committee that working in DOC is like working for a 3rd world sweat shop. 

February 6th, 2015
By: C. Bullins

Yesterday brought us the first Florida legislative committee week of 2015.  The Senate Criminal Justice Committee met yesterday, at 4:00 pm.  The following presentations were heard:

CLICK HERE FOR COPY OF COMMITTEE MEETING PACKET

1. Presentation by FDLE on the status of investigations of unnatural inmate deaths, the florida-public-employees-fdleMemorandum of Understanding with the Department of Corrections, and the Legislative Budget Request.

2. Presentation by George C. Mallinckrodt on suggested reforms for the Florida Department of Corrections.

3. Presentation by Allison DeFoor, Chairman, Project on Accountable Justice at Florida State University on Recommendations to Advance Public Safety through Increased Transparency, Accountability, and Oversight of the Florida Department of Corrections.

Newly appointed FDLE Commissioner Swearingen who has only been in his position for 2 weeks gave the first presentation.  FDLE is requesting extra money and positions to handle the influx of investigations they will be handling for deaths of inmates incarcerated in a Florida state prison.

There was much discussion on the previous MOU between DOC and FDLE and the present one including what Swearingen cited as a verbal agreement that FDLE investigate “ALL” inmate deaths instead of only the ones cited in the MOU.  Senator Bradley discussed concerns relating to DOC having discretion on selecting certain types of deaths to be investigated by the DOC’s Inspector General.

Swearingen advised that he would be entering further discussions with FDOC Secretary Jones about a new MOU.  It appears that the committee wishes that FDLE conduct all investigations concerning inmate deaths due to the lack of trust with the DOC Inspector General and will explore legislative action rather than rely on an MOU between the agencies.  I believe a Bill would be the best course of action, since both the DOC Inspector General and FDLE were on scene following the death of Inmate Randall Jordan-Aparo.

A couple of times throughout the testimony, it was asked what the consequences would be for failing to abide by the MOU.  The answer given was there were none as it is currently written.  I immediately thought of the week of reckoning by DOC whereby 32 officers were terminated, but DOC Inspector General Jeffrey Beasley was left unscathed.  The DOC Inspector General is charged with the oversight of investigations into inmate deaths and the review of all use of force reports. There is no longer public trust in the DOC Inspector General’s Office to the point where it is in the best interest of taxpayers to fund FDLE to perform part of their duties yet what steps are being taken to restore faith in the DOC Inspector General’s Office?

As stated, I suspect a Bill will emerge to override any need for an MOU.

Allison DeFoor

Allison DeFoor

Allison DeFoor gave the last presentation on behalf of FSU’s Project on Accountable Justice who is advocating for a Commission to have access to the prisons and records and serve as an advisory board.  Senator Bradley has submitted SB 212 creating the Florida Corrections Commission. Everything coming from this group is spot on!

They know the system well, look at the big picture, are knowledgeable about the practices in agencies across the nation and have a stated commitment to be evidenced-based and results oriented. The group could serve the system well. However before I become a committed fan, I will watch carefully due to possible concerns from their funding sources. However, Allison DeFoor was the corrections officers hero for the day!

It took a conservative from a rightwing funded think tank to stand up and publicly tell the committee, “Low wages….no pay increase in 7 years, there is never enough staff, there is a chronic shortage of staff in buildings that are crumbling at the operational level un-air conditioned. If this was the 3rd world, we would call this a sweat shop.” 

VIEW VIDEOPOWERFUL TESTIMONY BY ALLISON DEFOOR BEFORE YESTERDAY’S COMMITTEE

Hallelujah for the good men and women who serve as correctional officers for someone to stand up and describe the working conditions of DOC officers!

It was DOC’s Secretary Julie Jones first day on the job.  She was in the audience and is expected to give a presentation to the committee in 2 weeks.

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