Thursday, November 15, 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: Warren takes positive step to advance justice in Hillsborough

Editorial: Warren takes positive step to advance justice in Hillsborough

The Conviction Review Unit follows through on a campaign pledge to review past conviction cases.
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Editorial: Tone down the rhetoric, focus on counting votes

President Donald Trump, Sen. Marco Rubio and Gov. Rick Scott should stop making unfounded claims of voter fraud.
Published: 11/13/18
Editorial: Get Hillsborough transit priorities in shape

Editorial: Get Hillsborough transit priorities in shape

Hillsborough County scored a historic win this month when voters approved a one-cent sales tax to pay for transportation improvements. The $9 billion or more it will generate over the next 30 years should transform mobility across the region and impr...
Published: 11/12/18
Editorial: Deadly danger of wrong-way driving

Editorial: Deadly danger of wrong-way driving

The state is taking action to minimize wrong-way crashes
Published: 11/11/18
Updated: 11/12/18
Editorial: Makeover on the Pinellas School Board

Editorial: Makeover on the Pinellas School Board

Three veterans depart, clearing the way for new faces
Published: 11/09/18
Updated: 11/12/18

Editorial: Count every vote

Elections have two parts: You vote, then count the vote. Floridians did their part by turning out in record numbers in Tuesday’s midterm elections. Now it falls to local election supervisors to ensure that every vote is accurately counted.
Published: 11/09/18
Updated: 11/12/18
Editorial: A progressive shift in Hillsborough

Editorial: A progressive shift in Hillsborough

Tuesday’s elections should create a more constructive climate in Hillsborough politics, easing the social wars in recent years between Democrats and Republicans that too often resulted in polarizing urban and suburban constituencies.
Published: 11/09/18
Editorial: A smart plan for helping mom-and-pops

Editorial: A smart plan for helping mom-and-pops

St. Petersburg would limit the size of storefronts on two commercial corridors
Published: 11/09/18

Editorial: Good houseguests

A donation of furniture to schools shows how thoughtful little things can make a big difference
Published: 11/09/18

Friday’s letters: Making sense of the midterms

Friday’s letters to the editor
Published: 11/09/18