Monday, June 25, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Working toward common goal on prison reform

South Florida lawmaker David Richardson has embarked on a bold mission to bring about safety reforms in Florida's troubled prison system. Richardson has spent months visiting prisons throughout the state and brought fresh eyes to problems such as gang fights, officer abuse and unsafe conditions for youthful offenders. His work has been well received by Department of Corrections officials and already has produced concrete results.

Richardson, a Miami Beach Democrat, has utilized a state law that allows legislators unfettered, unannounced access to Florida's prisons. In six months, he visited 23 corrections facilities and interviewed more than 120 inmates. The retired forensic auditor uncovered officer-on-inmate violence, gangs that prey on new arrivals and poorly designed facilities with blind spots that can be exploited by violent troublemakers. At Sumter Correctional Institution, for example, he learned that officers routinely stage fights in areas that are away from surveillance cameras. A Miami Herald article in September about the broomstick hazing of a 19-year-old inmate at Lancaster Correctional Institution near Gainesville prompted Richardson to focus on offenders between the ages of 14 and 24, many of whom were housed at adult prisons in areas designated for youths but rife with violence.

Backed by Department of Corrections Secretary Julie Jones, Richardson had free rein to interview inmates. He used what he learned in those interviews to make recommendations to Jones. He has, for example, called for officers to wear body cameras to reduce staff violence against inmates. In February, Jones agreed to close the youthful offender wing at Lancaster and transfer young inmates to more appropriate facilities. She also said she remains open to the House lawmaker's suggestions even if she ultimately disagrees. This type of cooperation from Jones and her staff puts the best interests of the prison system above territorial concerns. Separately, Jones is lobbying legislators for 734 new staff positions to increase safety. Lawmakers should hear her out.

The systemic dysfunction in Florida's prisons is well documented. Corrections officials need help from all corners to overhaul a system rife with inmate abuse, unexplained inmate deaths and inadequate supervision of prisoners. Richardson's investigative work has enabled the Corrections Department to see itself from a different perspective, and refreshingly, the agency has been receptive to the lawmaker's observations and suggestions.

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Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

Itís hard to pick the biggest outrage in the financial and ethical swamp that has swallowed Tampa Bayís two primary job placement agencies, CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay. Is it the boiler room atmosphere where CareerSource recruite...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18

Family separation crisis is not over

The family-separation crisis that President Donald Trump created is not over. The executive order Trump signed Wednesday purporting to end the routine tearing of children from their undocumented parents stands on uncertain legal ground. U.S. border a...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Veterans can help veterans deal with trauma resulting from military service in a way no one else can. Thatís 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
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

The shocking scenes of immigrant children crying after being taken from their parents at the border exposed a new level of cruelty by the Trump administration, and though the president reversed course Wednesday, Congress needs to end the shameful pra...
Published: 06/21/18

Editorial: Florida needs to explain its own price gouging

In the wake of Hurricane Irma last fall, Attorney General Pam Bondi vowed to scour Florida to prevent businesses from exploiting consumers by price gouging. It turns out she could have just looked down the hall in the state capitol. Based on reportin...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Good job, Jeff Sessions! It seems the attorney generalís misguided attempts to revive the unpopular and unjust federal war on marijuana may be having the exact opposite effect ó prompting a new bipartisan effort in Congress to allow states to legaliz...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís 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