01/28/15 State Roundup
TALLAHASSEE — After years of slashing funding for Florida's state prison system, Gov. Rick Scott released a proposed budget Wednesday that would inject $51.2 million in new spending into the troubled agency, but fails to provide any new resources to investigate inmate deaths — which last year reached a record high.
The governor, who has said little about allegations of corruption, inmate abuse and the suspicious deaths of inmates under federal scrutiny, said he would allocate $17.5 million to fill 300 "critical'' staff vacancies. But his proposal falls far short of the 654 vacancies that his new corrections secretary, Julie Jones, wanted filled in her budget request. Scott also provided no new money to boost the salaries of corrections officers, who have not received raises in six years....
After years of slashing funding for Florida’s state prison system, Gov. Rick Scott released a proposed budget Wednesday that would inject $51.2 million in new spending into the troubled agency but fails to provide any new resources to investigate inmate deaths – which last year reached a record high.
The governor, who has said little about allegations of corruption, inmate abuse and the high number of inmate deaths, would allocate $17.5 million to fill staff vacancies, which falls far short of the 654 that his new corrections secretary, Julie Jones, requested in her budget proposal. Scott also provided no new money to boost the salaries of corrections officers, who have not received raises in six years....01/27/15Politics
TALLAHASSEE — As Florida's prisons face increased scrutiny about suspicious inmate deaths, cover-ups, and questionable medical care, a state Senate panel is proposing new safeguards for prisoners.
The Senate Criminal Justice Committee will take up a broad piece of legislation next Monday that the chairman says is "a first step" aimed at resetting a prison culture rife with allegations of excessive force and negligent medical care....01/27/15 Blog01/23/15 State Roundup
The chairman of a key legislative committee and an entourage of Senate staffers dropped in for an evening of surprise inspections at two of North Florida's troubled prisons late Thursday.
The initial findings after touring Suwannee Correctional and Jefferson Correctional: dormitories that had been abandoned because of leaking roofs, facilities dependent on community donations for supplies and dangerously low staffing levels at the prisons....01/23/15 Blog01/22/15 Blog01/22/15 Blog
Frustrated that state officials have scrubbed crucial, and often embarrassing, details from a state report on children who have died from abuse, the head of the key Senate oversight committee said Thursday that it may be time to take the job away from the administration....01/21/15 Blog
The top executives of seven of South Florida gambling venues traveled to Tallahassee Wednesday to have a pre-arranged, closed-door meeting with Gov. Rick Scott who, in keeping with his un-even policies on transparency, kept it off his public agenda.
The officials -- from the Isle of Capri, Dania, Mardi Gras, Calder, Magic City, Miami Jai Alai and Hialeah -- discussed their continued hopes for the Seminole gaming compact, sources close to the casinos told the Herald/Times....01/21/15 State Roundup
TALLAHASSEE — Florida Cabinet members are turning up the heat on Gov. Rick Scott over the botched removal of a top state police official, with Attorney General Pam Bondi raising "serious questions" about Scott's conduct.
Bondi on Wednesday became the last of the three elected Republican Cabinet members to distance herself from the ouster last month of Gerald Bailey as commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Bailey alleges that Scott and his aides meddled in law enforcement business and used strong-arm tactics to pressure him to resign....01/21/15 Blog
Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said Wednesday that he does not believe the solution to the botched dismissal of former Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey is to start over and redo a vote on the new commissioner.
“Our collective concern has been focused on the way Gerry Bailey’s dismissal was handled, not on the way Rick Swearingen’s hiring was handled,’’ Putnam told the Herald/Times, a day after Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater hand-delivered a letter to Gov. Rick Scott asking to reopen the search for a new commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement....01/20/15 Blog
In an unprecedented moment of candor, Florida’s newly installed prisons chief told a Senate committee that private contractors have provided inadequate medical care to Florida’s inmates while crumbling infrastructure and years of staffing cuts have fostered “culture” problems in the massive agency....01/20/15 State Roundup
TALLAHASSEE — In an unprecedented moment of candor, Florida's newly installed prisons chief told a Senate committee that private contractors have provided inadequate medical care to Florida's inmates while crumbling infrastructure and years of staffing cuts have fostered "culture" problems in the massive agency.
Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Julie Jones had intended to present the Senate Criminal Justice Committee with a variety of reforms she is proposing to the system that has seen a 13 percent increase in inmate deaths in the past year, but the committee had other ideas....01/20/15 Blog
On the defensive over allegations of abuse and cover up at the nation's third largest prison system, the newly-installed secretary of the Florida Department of Corrections is offering a series of reforms aimed at repairing the embattled department. ...01/20/15 Blog
Skeptical that Gov. Rick Scott’s administration can conduct an independent review of abuse allegations at the Department of Corrections, a bipartisan group of state senators is conducting its own inquiry....