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Mary Ellen Klas, Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau

Mary Ellen Klas

Mary Ellen Klas is capital bureau chief for the Miami Herald and co-bureau chief of the Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald Tallahassee Bureau. She is a graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and a graduate of the University of St. Catherine in St. Paul, Minn. Before she became bureau chief for the Herald in 2004, Mary Ellen was Tallahassee bureau chief for Florida Trend magazine and also served as a senior writer for the Palm Beach Post. She was bureau chief for the Palm Beach Post from 1990-94, after which she worked part time for 10 years while her daughters were young. She is married to John Kennedy, senior writer for the Palm Beach Post's Tallahassee bureau. They have two daughters.

Phone: 850-222-3095

Email: meklas@miamiherald.com

Twitter: @MaryEllenKlas

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  1. Scott's prison budget fails to include money to investigate record high inmate deaths

    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....

    Florida Gov. Rick Scott speaks to the media during a pre-legislative news conference Wednesday in Tallahassee. [AP photo]
  2. Scott proposes more money for prisons, but not prison investigations

    Blog

    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....

  3. Bill would punish abusive guards, protect Florida prisoners

    Politics

    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....

  4. Senate proposes new protections against inmate abuse

    Blog

    Julie JonesAs Florida’s prisons face increased scrutiny about suspicious inmate deaths, cover-ups, and questionable medical care, a state Senate committee is proposing new safeguards for prisoners....

  5. Florida lawmaker drops in on prisons, finds problems

    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....

  6. Legislator conducts surprise inspection of troubled prison

    Blog

    Suwanee CorrectionalThe chairman of a key legislative committee and an entourage of Senate staff dropped in for an evening of surprise inspections at two of North Florida’s troubled prisons late Thursday....

  7. Assistant warden removed from prison with violent history

    Blog

    Julie JonesAn assistant warden at a troubled Florida women’s prison where two inmates died last year under suspicious circumstances has been fired, the Department of Corrections confirmed Thursday....

  8. Sobel wants to consider independent panel to review child deaths

    Blog

    Eleanor SobelFrustrated 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....

  9. Scott keeps meeting with parimutuel execs off his public calendar

    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....

  10. Attorney General Pam Bondi joins Cabinet scrutiny of Gov. Rick Scott's actions in FDLE firing

    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....

    Adam Putnam was the first to fault Scott’s actions.
  11. Putnam disagrees with Atwater: redo hiring Swearingen hire is too disruptive

    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....

  12. Julie Jones acknowledges troubles with prison health care, staffing

    Blog

    Julie JonesIn 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....

  13. New Florida prisons boss Julie Jones doubles down on reforms

    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....

    Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Julie Jones told the lawmakers her priorities are to focus on rebuilding decades-old buildings, adequately staff the agency and better handle the growing number of mentally ill inmates. [Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles]
  14. Update: Corrections Secretary Julie Jones proposes round of reforms

    Blog

    Julie JonesOn 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. ...

  15. Legislators lose confidence in Scott administration's ability to police its prisons

    Blog

    Franklin CorrectionalSkeptical 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....