Sunday, June 24, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Keeping on top of prisoners' schemes

It now appears that the forged documents used by two Florida murderers to get out of prison were created by a prison gang. That's what the Florida Department of Law Enforcement told a legislative committee this week as lawmakers began weighing how the criminal justice system might alter processing requirements to prevent future breaches. The revelation of the documents' origin underscores that prison security is always vulnerable to criminal ingenuity, and the real lesson may be the need for much better communication as new risks emerge.

The escape by Joseph Jenkins and Charles Walker was no prison break in the classic sense. Sitting in Franklin Correctional Institution in the Panhandle, the pair simply waited for fake documents amending their life sentences to be delivered to an Orlando courthouse 280 miles away to turn the key and set them free. The pair was so confident of the ruse they even took the trouble to register as felons at the Orange County Jail and visit family before moving on. If not for the family of one of Jenkins' murder victims learning of his release and contacting authorities, the pair might have gotten away before their apprehension last month at a Panhandle motel.

But they weren't the first to use fake documents to get out. FDLE has uncovered at least five other similar attempts, including one in Tampa Bay in 2009. Nydeed Nashaddai now sits in Franklin Correctional on a 20-year sentence for the 16 hours he was free after fake court documents sprung him from the Pinellas County Jail, where he was being held on theft charges. Nashaddai was released after someone deposited a counterfeit judge's order in a public drop box at the St. Petersburg courthouse that was taken to the Clearwater courthouse and processed as authentic. In another case this year, the state filed charges against Jeffery Forbes, an inmate in Tomoka Correctional Institution whose ruse was discovered before he was released, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

Many of the changes legislators are considering already have been made in many courthouses around the state. For example, after Nashaddai's stunt, Pinellas Clerk of Court Ken Burke instructed staff to verify court-created documents that arrive through a public drop box. Lawmakers this week discussed requiring prisons to confirm directly with a judge's office any notice of an earlier release date.

Department of Corrections Secretary Michael Crews told a Senate committee he will look to eliminate access to computers where he can, though inmates must have access to legal materials, often through a computer in the library. The corrections staff is reviewing 9,400 court sentencing orders issued since January 2010 but has found no more forgeries.

There's hope that a new electronic records system will be more secure. But criminal ingenuity isn't going away. Florida criminal justice officials should have candid conversations about the best way to quickly communicate security threats as they emerge and not wait until they have been repeated multiple times.

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Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

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Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18

Family separation crisis is not over

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Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

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Veterans can help veterans deal with trauma resulting from military service in a way no one else can. That’s the theory behind a special hotline set up in the Tampa Bay area that proponents are hoping to take statewide.The expansion would cost some $...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

It turns out the U.S. Supreme Court has a better grasp of the economic realities of the 21st century than Congress or the Florida Legislature. The court ruled Thursday that states can require online retailers to collect sales taxes even if the retail...
Published: 06/21/18
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Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

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Published: 06/21/18
Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

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Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
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