Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Politics

Irma forces largest evacuation of prisoners in Florida history

TALLAHASSEE — The biggest storm on record has forced Florida prison officials to conduct the largest evacuation of prisoners in state history.

More than 7,000 inmates from work camps and community release centers in south and central Florida are begin evacuated from wind and flood-prone areas to more secure facilities across the state, Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Julie Jones told reporters Thursday.

In many cases, the inmates are being moved from low-lying areas and less secure facilities to related concrete block main institutions, said Michelle Glady, Corrections Department spokeswoman.

An estimated 4,000 inmates are being moved by buses and vans in Region 4, South Florida, another 3,000 inmates are being transported in Central Florida and there will be others who are transferred to stronger facilities in the northern part of the state, Jones said. The evacuations began Wednesday and will be completed by Friday, she said.

"I told every regional director to act like this storm was going to hit them directly,'' Jones said. She asked staff to find a way to "shelter inmates in place" in the safest buildings "and we're doing that."

The exodus means that many of the state's 97,000 inmates will spend the next several days in cramped quarters just weeks after the state put the entire prison system on lockdown fearing a coordinated uprising from inmates at several state facilities.

"I feel very comfortable that our inmate population is safe, our officers are safe,'' Jones said. "We have food and water for seven days and we have extensive plans for damage assessment, follow up."

Within 24 hours of the movement, family members of inmates will be able to track where their relatives have been transported by searching the agency's website.

In some cases, the inmates will be transported to facilities in evacuations zones which are expected to be able to withstand hurricane-force winds and flooding, Jones said.

Despite increased gang activity and a summer of unrest that has plagued Florida's troubled prison system, Jones was upbeat about the development. She said the inmates are in "close quarters right now" and are being given time outside with "lots of canteen" privileges, increased access to phone calls, and "lots of activities right now."

"They understand what's going on,'' she said. "They're worried about their families and their families are worried about them and for the prison population it's very collegial."

Contact Mary Ellen Klas at [email protected] Follow @MaryEllenKlas

Comments
Romano: A Tampa Bay ‘superstar’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

Romano: A Tampa Bay ‘superstar’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

At this moment, she is Tampa Bay’s most influential export. A smart, accomplished and powerful attorney making life-altering decisions on an international stage.But what of tomorrow? And the day after?When the story of President Donald Trump’s border...
Updated: 2 hours ago
‘Don’t leave me, Mom’: Detainee tells of separation from son

‘Don’t leave me, Mom’: Detainee tells of separation from son

SEATTLE — The call came at mealtime — an anonymous threat demanding $5,000 or her son’s life. So Blanca Orantes-Lopez, her 8-year-old boy and his father packed up and left the Pacific surfing town of Puerto La Libertad in El Salvador and headed for t...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Trump defiant as border crisis escalates, prepares to lobby House GOP on immigration bills

Trump defiant as border crisis escalates, prepares to lobby House GOP on immigration bills

WASHINGTON - As he prepared to visit Capitol Hill, President Donald Trump on Tuesday continued to insist that Congress produce comprehensive immigration legislation, while anxious Republicans explored a narrower fix to the administration policy of se...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Trump, GOP to huddle as outrage builds over border policy

Trump, GOP to huddle as outrage builds over border policy

WASHINGTON (AP) — Calls are mounting on Capitol Hill for the Trump administration to end the separation of families at the southern border ahead of a visit from President Donald Trump to discuss legislation.Trump’s meeting late Tuesday afternoon with...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Another detention center for immigrant children planned for Houston

Another detention center for immigrant children planned for Houston

Another facility intended for detaining undocumented children is reportedly in the works for Houston as the number of children separated from their parents at the border continues to swell.Southwest Key Programs, the same contractor that operates the...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Muralist working with huge St. Pete ‘canvas’ to create neighborhood eye-grabber

Muralist working with huge St. Pete ‘canvas’ to create neighborhood eye-grabber

ST. PETERSBURG — They appear to rise out of nowhere — two enormous, reclaimed-water tanks with an artist’s white clouds scudding across a blue background.A closer view reveals silhouettes of a lone coyote howling at the sky, mangrove islands, oak, cy...
Updated: 12 hours ago
FBI agent removed from Russia probe for anti-Trump texts says he’s willing to testify before Congress

FBI agent removed from Russia probe for anti-Trump texts says he’s willing to testify before Congress

The FBI agent who was removed from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election for sending anti-Trump texts intends to testify before the House Judiciary Committee and any other congressional committee that asks, his attorney sai...
Published: 06/17/18
Erosion of immigrant protections began with Trump inaugural

Erosion of immigrant protections began with Trump inaugural

The Trump administration’s move to separate immigrant parents from their children on the U.S.-Mexico border has grabbed attention around the world, drawn scorn from human-rights organizations and overtaken the immigration debate in Congress.It’s also...
Published: 06/17/18

Pasco Political Notebook

Perenich to ‘Walk the District’Stephen Perenich, Democratic candidate for U.S. House of Representatives, Florida District 12, will be "Walking the District" June 25-29. Perenich will be walking 55 miles in five days, starting in Dade City and heading...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/18/18
GOP lawmakers decry family separations as WH defends policy

GOP lawmakers decry family separations as WH defends policy

WASHINGTON — Congressional Republicans distanced themselves Thursday from the Trump administration’s aggressive policy of separating children from their parents at the southern border even as the White House cited the Bible in defending its "zero tol...
Published: 06/14/18