Florida prisons

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

This post will be updated today, Wednesday, June 24, and through the week with the latest information on COVID-19 in South Florida.

COVID-19 Cases, And Testing, Soar In State Prisons

May 12, 2020

TALLAHASSEE --- Eight Florida prisons are hot spots for COVID-19, with the number of inmates testing positive for the highly contagious disease continuing to soar even as the state loosens restrictions aimed at preventing the spread of the virus.

The clusters of cases at prisons throughout the state surfaced after the Florida Department of Corrections and health officials recently began mass testing of inmates at facilities with existing cases of COVID-19.

Prison Operator Releases Details Of COVID-19 Outbreak

Apr 17, 2020
Miami Herald

TALLAHASSEE --- A private prison company that operates a Northwest Florida facility where four inmates have died of COVID-19 unexpectedly released detailed information Thursday night about the medical attention prisoners have received amid the pandemic.

After state agencies repeatedly refused to answer questions about inmate deaths, The Geo Group Inc. disclosed information about inmate hospitalizations, fatalities and quarantines at Blackwater River Correctional Facility in Santa Rosa County.


On this Monday, April 13, episode of Sundial:

How are Florida prisons dealing with coronavirus? 

As the coronavirus spreads across the country, Florida prisons hustle to implement sanitation procedures, social distancing within jail cells and accessing testing for inmates.


This post will be updated today, Wednesday, April 8, with the latest information on COVID-19 in South Florida.


On this Tuesday, Jan. 28, episode of Sundial:

Outdated prison sentences in Florida 

An upcoming Florida State University study shows there are hundreds of Florida inmates currently serving outdated drug sentences that are no longer in state law. The study finds women (specifically Hispanic women) are being disproportionately impacted by these sentences. 

Carl Juste / Miami Herald

Shocked by a Miami Herald report detailing allegations of systemic sexual abuse of female inmates by male staff at a federal facility, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio is urging the Bureau of Prisons to conduct a thorough review of Coleman Federal Correctional Complex.

Courtesy of Karli Evans

On this Thursday, Dec.5, episode of Sundial: 

Is the Florida Prison System crumbling?

jail hand
Sakhorn38 creative commons / WLRN

A group representing prisoners with disabilities is accusing the Florida Department of Corrections of failing to comply with a settlement reached in a federal lawsuit about discrimination against inmates who are deaf, blind or use wheelchairs.

Under the settlement finalized in June 2017, the state agreed, among other things, to provide sign-language interpreters for deaf prisoners and to remove architectural barriers for inmates who use wheelchairs.

Miami Herald

For years, male officers at the women’s work camp at Coleman Federal Correctional Complex sexually harassed and assaulted inmates in what amounted to a “sanctuary” for systemic abuse, a space where they were shielded from any consequences.

If the women complained about being groped, fondled or forced to perform sex acts on officers, the inmates were the ones who were punished.

Florida’s prison system, the third largest in the nation, has long faced issues with contraband drugs, yet the state agency that grapples with the problems does not track the number of inmates treated for overdoses.

WLRN / Getty Images

This last May was the hottest ever recorded in the Sunshine State. That was followed by higher-than-average temperatures in June and July. The scorching hot temperatures means thousands of inmates across the state are spending what could potentially be a record-breaking summer without access to air conditioning.

The Florida Department of Corrections operates 50 “major facilities” across the state. Only 18 of them have air conditioning in “most of their housing,” according to the department.

WLRN / Getty Images

Access to healthcare inside South Florida prisons and jails is under renewed scrutiny after a pregnant woman with a mental illness delivered her child alone in a Broward County jail cell last month.

George Zuber / Where Justice Ends

Local filmmaker George Zuber's film “Where Justice Ends,” explores the experiences of people who identify as transgender within prisons and jails across the U.S. In the film, a number of trans women share experiences of mistreatment, sexual and verbal abuse and discrimination in the prison system.

A provision in the Senate’s big criminal justice reform bill could make a big impact early on, if signed into law. That impact would come in the form of fewer people incarcerated, and significant savings for the state.