Miami legislator assumes role of investigator on marathon prison-inspection program
Standing in the center of a barren prison courtyard at Sumter Correctional Institution in Bushnell two weeks ago, encircled by towering razor wire and brick buildings, state Rep. David Richardson was on a mission.
His legislative week hadn’t begun yet, so he had arrived for an unannounced visit to the youthful offender wing of the massive prison compound. Since August, the retired forensic auditor had learned that if he wanted to understand how inmates were treated in the state’s troubled corrections system, he had to find a place to conduct one-on-one interviews with offenders.
His conclusion: Find a very public space within the prison confines, out of earshot of corrections officers or prison staff, away from any recording equipment “and never ask what sent them to prison, unless it’s going to be your last question.”
Over the past six months, Richardson, a Miami Beach Democrat who had never set foot in a prison, has quietly met with more than 120 inmates during more than 30 visits to 23 different corrections facilities in his quest to determine how to fix the ailing system. Story here.