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


Twitter: @MaryEllenKlas

  1. Crews now vows to help expedite delayed investigations into inmate deaths


    After weeks of silence, and months of receiving complaints about a suspicious inmate death by a scalding shower at Miami Correctional Institution, Department of Corrections Secretary Mike Crews said Wednesday that he will travel to Miami to accelerate the investigation into the death of inmate Darren Rainey.

    In a statement released Wednesday, Crews announced that he also will be traveling to prisons across the state to "assess operations, meet with leaders and officers, and take action on activities that run counter to the Department’s mission of maintaining a secure environment for officers and the inmates the Department houses."...

  2. FBI and FDLE open new probes into inmate deaths


    New investigations are underway by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement into the deaths of three inmates whose bodies were found in state prisons over the Fourth of July weekend, authorities confirmed Wednesday.

    The deaths bring the total open, in-custody state prison death cases under scrutiny to 10 — nine of them being handled by the FDLE.

    The Miami Herald also confirmed Wednesday that an FBI investigation is ongoing at Suwannee Correctional facility, the site of an October prison riot by inmates who attacked five prison guards. In April, Shawn Gooden, 33, died under mysterious circumstances at Suwannee, and his death is also under investigation by the FDLE. Inmates there have long complained of violence, abuse and corruption at the prison, located in Live Oak, just west of Lake City....

  3. Former DOC head McDonough blasts department for 'lack of outrage'


    Former Department of Corrections Chief James McDonough said Tuesday that events at his former agency "smacks of torture, sadism, murder, cover up, and ignoring of the facts." 

    McDonough, the former drug czar and DOC secretary under Gov. Jeb Bush, was responding to a series of reports in the Miami Herald alleging the abusive deaths of inmates and cover-up at the agency. McDonough was tapped to head the prison department by Bush from 2006-2008 after Bush fired Secretary James Crosby, who was convicted for taking kickbacks. ...

  4. After complaints about systemic corruption, prison chief now says wrongdoers will pay


    After the drumbeat of allegations about years of widespread corruption, inmate abuse and mismanagement at the Department of Corrections, Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Michael Crews on Tuesday vowed to "hold any individuals within its Department if they are found of any wrongdoing."

    Crews failed to accept blame for any of the allegations in response to a report in today's Miami Herald in which four investigators within the department filed a whistleblower complaint alleging systemic corruption within the department, including inmate brutality and officially sanctioned gang violence....

  5. Investigators accuse Florida Department of Corrections of corruption


    Four investigators with the Department of Corrections have accused the state of Florida of running a prison system rife with corruption, brutality and officially sanctioned gang violence — and of retaliating against them when they tried to expose what was going on.

    The four filed a federal whistle-blower complaint on Monday alleging that state prisoners were beaten and tortured, that guards smuggled in drugs and other contraband in exchange for money and sexual favors, and that guards used gang enforcers to control the prison population. They claim those actions were either tacitly approved or covered up....

  6. Medical cannabis offers new high for Tally lobbyists


    Marijuana rule hearing

  7. Democratic governors give Crist campaign $500k boost


    The Democratic Governors Association has funneled $500,000 to Charlie Crist, the former Republican governor now running as a Democrat against GOP Gov. Rick Scott.

    The donation allowed Crist's political committee to raise more cash from June 21 to June 27 than Scott and a Scott's political committee, newly filed reports show. Candidates and their affiliated committees must now provide reports weekly....

  8. Medical marijuana rule development hearing draws huge crowd


    Joel stanleyThe race to cultivate and distribute marijuana for a limited medical use began Monday when state regulators opened a daylong hearing on the draft rules for the new law to allow noneuphoric, noninhalable cannabis to be developed....

  9. Florida holds first hearing on medical marijuana rules

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Florida regulators faced a packed room of profit-seeking hopefuls and desperate parents Monday as they launched the first hearing on draft rules authorizing marijuana in the state for limited medical use.

    The standing-room-only crowd came to offer feedback on a proposed rule drafted by the Florida Department of Health as it decides how to implement the law that legalizes marijuana low in THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and high in CBD (cannabidiol) for patients with seizures, severe and persistent muscle spasms and cancer. The rules must be in effect by Jan. 1 and only patients who are put on a state-run "compassionate use registry" will be eligible for the drug....

    A medical marijuana plant is shown at the Northwest Patient Resource Center medical marijuana dispensary, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Seattle. After voters weighed in on election day, Colorado and Washington became the first states to allow legal pot for recreational use, but they are likely to face resistance from federal regulations. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren) WATW203
  10. No Casino poll says voters want final say in any expanded gambling


    Any discussion of expanded gambling, or limited gambling, may be on hold until after the election but a new poll out by No Casinos says legislators should keep voters in mind before making any commitments.  Download Florida-Gambling-Survey-June-2014-Handouts...

  11. DCF launches new website to track child deaths


    Two days after Gov. Rick Scott signed into law a measure that requires greater openness from state child welfare administrators, the Department of Children & Families unveiled a new website designed to make a host of new information available to ordinary Floridians.

    The website went live Wednesday morning, a week before the major provisions of a child welfare overhaul are expected to be implemented broadly. It also rolled out one day after a Miami-Dade grand jury blasted DCF for “intentionally and deliberately” undercounting the very child deaths that are reported at the site....

  12. Citizens board agrees to rate cut for most, hikes for coast and condos


    For the first time in four years, Citizens Property Insurance wants to lower rates for nearly 70 percent of its customers while everyone else – mostly South Florida condominium owners and homeowners in coastal areas -- will see another year of increases.

    The rate changes were recommended Wednesday at the quarterly meeting of Citizens’ Board of Governors and now must go before the Office of Insurance Regulation for final approval....

  13. Citizens board votes to lower insurance rates

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — For the first time in four years, Citizens Property Insurance wants to lower rates for nearly 70 percent of its customers.

    The rate changes were recommended Wednesday at the quarterly meeting of Citizens' Board of Governors and now must go before the Office of Insurance Regulation for final approval.

    The lower rates were made possible primarily because of a decline in re-insurance costs and the fact that the state has not faced a hurricane in eight years, Citizens officials said....

  14. Human rights groups want feds to intervene in probe of inmate death in Florida


    Several human rights groups on Wednesday asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the Florida Department of Corrections for the death of a mentally-ill inmate at the Dade County Correctional Institute last year who, other inmates allege,  was placed in a locked, scalding hot shower and left there as punishment. 

    Darren Rainey, 50, died June 23, 2012, at Dade Correctional but the death was never investigated by either DOC or Miami-Dade police. The inmate assigned to clean up the shower after his death, told the Miami Herald on Tuesday that he found a blue canvas sneaker and ...

  15. Grand jury blasts DCF for systematically shielding child deaths


    A Miami-Dade grand jury accused state child welfare administrators Tuesday of “intentionally and deliberately” manipulating the investigation of child deaths because of abuse and neglect — making it appear that fewer children were dying across the state.

    In a 30-page report that explores whether the Department of Children & Families has improved since the shocking 2011 death of 10-year-old Nubia Barahona, grand jurors found much that pleased them. But they also scolded the agency for what they described as a systematic attempt to conceal the true number of children whose lives are cut short by abuse or neglect....