Forgotten Majority

Advocating for the just and humane treatment of those who are incarcerated.


Prison reform compromise among the dead bills on session floor

Tuesday, April 28, 2015 7:44pm
By Mary Ellen Klas and Michael Auslen

As the session melted down on Tuesday, Senate President Andy Gardiner announced that the prison reform compromise — which featured the Senate agreeing to withdraw from its position for an independent oversight board — was now a casualty of the impasse.

“The last three days of session, we should be negotiating that as a partner,” Gardiner told the chamber after the House had adjourned three days early. Of the prison reform bill that was passed by the House last week, he said: “That bill’s not going to make it.”

Sen. Greg Evers, R-Baker, the chairman of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, said he was satisfied to drop the compromise bill, which he had worked on with his counterpart in the House, Rep. Carolos Trujillo. The Senate had agreed to remove many of the provisions it had sought in exchange for some reforms but the additional oversight depended on the Senate president and House speaker to follow up with the creation of a joint select committee to pursue prison reform.

“There will not be a reform bill coming out,” Evers told the Herald/Times. “But I’m sure that the Senate president will set up a committee for the oversight of the Department of Corrections.”

He said that many of the changes sought by the bill can be made by rule and at the direction of the DOC secretary. “So the reforms, yes, will be made.”

Gardiner told reporters that he is prepared to assign Senate staff, and the Senate Criminal Justice Committe, to continue the investigations into the troubled agency.

“If it doesn’t pass, then we will put our corrections committee on the road within a couple of weeks, and they’ll do their own investigations,” he said. “I can subpoena people. We’re not done with that. It’s unfortunate that the House did what they did.”

Evers noted that the issue could emerge as part of a special session on the budget.

“Am I going to reevaluate it? No,” he said. “Because it’s not going to do anything within the bill that can’t be done by rule. I feel reasonably sure that the Senate president, that we will set up our own committee and we will direct it to take care of the oversight of the Department of Corrections.”

The following comment by George Malinckrodt, author of ‘Getting Away With Murder’, expresses the deep disappointments of all who fought valiantly for this Bill.

“The demise of Senate Bill 7020 means business as usual for abusive guards and the administrators who cover for them. A collective sigh could be heard from those who have brutalized and killed the men and women whose care they were entrusted with. I’m so disappointed. How legislators cannot agree on an issue this pressing astonishes me. Politics I guess. At least I can look back and say I did my best to inform committee members about the problems within the FL DOC.

The latest FL DOC mortality figure is 109 deaths for the first four months of this year. At this rate, Floridians can expect to see at least 327 deaths for 2015. I believe the FL DOC is a powder keg waiting for the tiniest spark. When people have their dignity stripped from them and are dehumanized and disrespected, they will rebel.”

The world is in greater peril from those who tolerate or encourage evil than from those who actually commit it.

                                                          Albert Einstein