July 13th, 2021
Activists for prisoner rights in Florida think it’s inhumane that a majority of the state's prisons lack air conditioning and air ventilation, which is why they’re encouraging people to sit inside a mock jail cell currently set up in the parking lot of the Allendale United Methodist Church in St. Petersburg for three minutes this week.
July 1st, 2021
For children with one or both parents incarcerated, trying to find a sense of normalcy within the family can be extremely difficult. Milestones like holidays, birthdays, the first day of school are all moments of love and support that are missed. The organization Florida Cares is working to bridge the communication gap between children and their parents.
June 30th, 2021
For three years, Myishea White and her 10-year-old daughter spoke on the phone with her husband, who is incarcerated, three to four times a day.
But in March, costs suddenly skyrocketed, making that routine untenable: White went from paying 4 cents per minute to call her husband to 13.5 cents per minute, with an added 99-cent fee every time she needed to add money to her call account.
June 16th, 2021
It has been 18 years since Congress passed the Prison Rape Elimination Act, which officially called for a zero-tolerance policy while aiming to curb the sexual violence plaguing correctional institutions across the country.
June 16th, 2021
Family members and prison-reform advocates say that physical mail acts as a tether to the outside world for incarcerated people. Handwritten notes connect them to loved ones. But, as first reported by the Orlando Sentinel , the Florida Department of Corrections plans to digitize incoming mail — with the exception of legal mail — and only allow inmates to access scanned versions of their correspondence via a personal tablet or shared electronic kiosk.
May 28th, 2021
Officials with the Florida Department of Corrections plan to almost completely digitize mail sent to state prisons by photocopying every card, letter or picture and providing it instead electronically to incarcerated people — a change that families and prison reform advocates argue could create more hurdles for maintaining connections with people in prison, as well as add additional burdens and costs to them and their loved ones.
May 4th, 2021
Florida’s burgeoning prison population — outstripping current staffing — could be reduced by sending more inmates to home-based corrections programs widely considered safe for the public and effective in rehabilitating offenders.
But that won’t happen any time soon, because for the third year in a row, at least, bipartisan efforts to reform Florida’s sentencing laws failed in the 2021 Florida Legislature.
April 23rd, 2021
After months of keeping Floridians in prisons and jails off the priority list for a COVID vaccine, the state is finally distributing the shots. But despite their vulnerability, many inside are skeptical.
April 13th, 2021
In a move that is being cheered by those who have loved ones behind bars, the state has started giving coronavirus vaccines to inmates at the Palm Beach County jail and those held in Florida prisons.
March 15th, 2021
For at least 210 Florida inmates, a prison sentence turned into a death sentence due to COVID-19.
The second-highest death toll in the country for prison inmates continues to tick up. The death rate is 1.5 times the rate in Florida overall.
March 6th, 2021
For the last few years, Amy McCourt and her partner have spoken on the phone about three times a day. It’s a lifeline for their long-distance relationship, with about seven hours between her south Florida home and the Panhandle prison where he’s incarcerated.
February 1st, 2021
Denise Rock, the executive director of the prisoner advocacy group Florida Cares, said she was shocked by the insensitivity of DeSantis’ comments Monday.
January 26th, 2021
Staff at Florida prisons have started asking inmates to decide if they would accept a COVID-19 vaccine, but are providing little or no information to help prisoners make that potentially life-saving decision, advocates say.
January 8th, 2021
Florida Corrections Secretary Mark Inch has submitted a request that could clear the way for thousands of state prisoners who are 65 and older to get a coronavirus vaccine, but it has yet to be approved by state health officials.
December 25th, 2020
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (CBS 12) — In the Florida Cares office in West Palm Beach, workers and volunteers spent their Christmas Eve afternoon working tirelessly over tables filled with wrapping paper, tape, ribbons and bows.
December 23rd, 2020
For the second year in a row, Helton’s three children will get a wrapped gift from their father, accompanied by a handwritten note from him, made possible by the Florida Cares holiday gift program.
December 23rd, 2020
The nonprofit, which works with the incarcerated and their families, wrapped Christmas gifts for their fourth year to send home to kids.
December 20th, 2020
The Sarasota County Legislative Delegation Friday met with civic organizations and county residents to discuss priorities for Florida’s 2021 legislative session. Among many areas of concern discussed, none was talked about more than prison reform.
November 10th, 2020
A Florida prison officer was arrested Monday on second-degree murder in the June death of a 51-year old inmate at Lake Correctional Institution. , according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement
October 9th, 2020
The Florida Department of Corrections reopened its doors for visitation a week ago, a six-month closure that, even after it ended, highlighted the need for further communication between the FDC and the families of those who are incarcerated.
August 22nd, 2020
Kita Dixon arrived with her nephew Isaiah at the Seminole County Criminal Justice Center on Saturday afternoon with two boards telling the story of Marcello Jackson, Dixon’s husband who has been in jail since 2002 on armed robbery charges among other related crimes.
August 13th, 2020
As COVID-19 spreads through Florida’s state prisons, a group of lawmakers who have visited the prisons said it is increasingly urgent that state leaders release non-violent inmates at elevated risk of being sickened or dying from COVID-19.
July 19th, 2020
Sunday, Florida’s daily COVID-19 case count remained high and death toll remained raised, but the positive test rate did fall over the last week.
April 24th, 2020
As a result of the COVID-19 crisis it is now more important than ever that families be able to communicate.
April 22nd, 2020
Florida’s prison population and staff are especially vulnerable to the coronavirus. But the Legislature did nothing to make it easier to free sick and elderly inmates.
Many people are relying on video call sessions to keep in touch with loved ones during the pandemic.
April 8th, 2020
In the last week incarcerated people have begun to test positive for COVID-19 in Florida’s jails and prisons.
July 22nd, 2020
When Laurette Philipsen was imprisoned at Lowell Correctional Institution years ago, she said the heat was so unbearable she would wake in the middle of the night and stand in the shower, fully clothed, then lay back in bed in her drenched uniform, “just to get some type of relief.”
July 22nd, 2020
Inside a sweltering prison in rural North Florida, the mass testing of hundreds of inmates began nearly two weeks ago on a Saturday, as corrections workers tried to sort and quarantine prisoners with symptoms of COVID-19.
June 26th, 2020
If there were ever a metaphor for a neglected petri dish for the novel coronavirus, it’s Florida’s jails and prisons.
June 24th, 2020
Florida Cares, an advocacy group for prisoners in Florida, held a parade from the State Attorney’s Office to the Palm Beach County jail on April 3, 2020, urging county leaders be more proactive in releasing inmates from the jail to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.
April 29th, 2020
Coronavirus is infecting us at unprecedented rates. It is the biggest public health crisis of our lifetimes, and we are failing to keep Floridians healthy and protected from the virus.
April 8th, 2020
Social distancing can’t take place in crowded prisons, advocates say.
April 7th, 2020
Bonds will be reduced temporarily in an effort to lessen the chances of an outbreak of coronavirus at the Palm Beach County Jail, according to an administrative order released this week.
April 3rd, 2020
While protesters drove cars decked with slogans and honking their horns past the Palm Beach County State Attorney's Office Friday demanding low-level inmates be released from jail, a plan was already in place to do just that.
April 3rd, 2020
More than a dozen people got together Friday afternoon, in separate cars, socially distancing from one another, to demand that those with lower-level, nonviolent offenses be released to stop the potential spread of coronavirus within in the jails.
April 1st, 2020
Florida's prison system has confirmed 12 workers testing positive for COVID-19, and some prison-rights groups say that alone should prompt testing of the prison population.
March 31st, 2020
Last week it was reported that seven Florida Department of Corrections employees who work at seven different corrections facilities have tested positive for COVID-19.
In prison, Michael Angel Monsivais saw a huge need. And instead of waiting for someone else to fill that need—the warden, the BOP, the government—he took matters into his own hands.
The Florida Campaign for Criminal Justice Reform (FLCCJR) is calling for a special session to address the $28 million in inhumane and counterproductive budget cuts to substance abuse treatment, transitional housing, community-based reentry services and mental health services announced by the Florida Department of Corrections.
FAMM announced today a partnership with Florida Cares to engage more families with incarcerated loved ones in Florida to become advocates for sentencing and prison reform.
A sprawling network of people with husbands, sons, daughters and wives in Florida prisons have linked up in the last two years through a nonprofit inmate advocacy group, Florida Cares. Very few of them chose to get involved with prison reform. Instead, they were thrust into that role instead when their loved ones were sentenced to one of the largest and most violent prison systems in the country.
A St. Petersburg senator filed a bill Thursday that would take a small step toward reforming Florida's prison system, following the model of federal legislation signed by President Donald Trump last year.
Families of inmates and advocacy groups were elated last fall when voters approved a Florida Constitutional Amendment that could soon allow some prisoners to be released early.
I sit at my desk wondering why they don’t get it. Why do our legislators continue to do nothing to help hurting children and hurting families?
Florida Senator Randolph Bracy has introduced legislation that would incentivize good behavior and rehabilitation in Florida’s prisons by adjusting the “gain time” for first time nonviolent offenders, allowing some people to earn more than 15 percent off of their prison sentence.
Two "gain-time" bills making their way through the Florida Legislature would reform the state's harsh minimum sentencing laws — a move experts say would promote good behavior and public safety while saving the state hundreds of millions of dollars.
Florida is an “outlier” in prison systems across the nation when it comes to the use of solitary confinement, according to a 90-page federal lawsuit filed Wednesday that alleges the state Department of Corrections is violating the constitutional rights of inmates.
FAC wants to recognize the efforts of Florida Cares Charity, and their organizer Denise Rock. After months of preparation, buses carrying FL Cares supporters rolled into Tallahassee last week for Justice Reform Lobby Day.
"There's so much contraband brought in by the prison staff, it's a full-time job to stay clean,'' she said. After her husband had been attending drug treatment meetings with a facilitator in the last year, he was sober for six months. Then the facilitator had a medical emergency and rather than replace him, the warden stopped the program.
Regardless of what one thinks of presidential pardons, we should reflect upon a simple truth – convictions and sentences meted out at one point might not be appropriate decades later. That is especially true for many people currently serving life or massive prison sentences.
There’s no denying it — there is a major contraband problem inside Florida prisons. Weapons, drugs, cellphones.
The Department of Corrections says sometimes it’s friends and gang members sneaking the contraband in.
Other times, it’s the corrections officers.
The Republican-led Florida Senate advanced sweeping reforms to Florida's criminal justice system Tuesday, as former inmates and their families pled for the state to back off on the hardline punishments of the past and move towards more common-sense sentencing that could ease crowded jails and offer offenders more hope for rehabilitation.
One out of seven prisoners in solitary confinement throughout the nation are housed in Florida prisons, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Racial bias poisons every step of Florida's criminal justice system.
As of this afternoon, the Florida Department of Corrections has evacuated or relocated 2,195 inmates in preparation for Hurricane Dorian.
Three state representatives listened to horrifying stories of abuse, neglect and pain witnessed by former inmates and their family members at the hands of corrections officers at Lowell Correctional Institution at a forum held at an Ocala church on Saturday.
Dade Correctional Institution employs one teacher for a population of 1,500 men – and just 16 prisoners have earned GED diplomas there over the past four years.
Some state prison officers soon could be allowed to use stun guns when dealing with disturbances among inmates, which has drawn concern from prison reform advocates as well as families with incarcerated loved ones.
The Pawsitive Direction program pairs prisoners with rescue dogs for them to train. Denise Rock and a rescue organization known as the Loxahatchee Animal Rescue Community (LARC) developed the program to serve both at-risk prisoners and at-risk dogs.
Laurette Philipsen speaks to reporters at a Tallahassee press event where a lawsuit against the state Dept. of Corrections for placing people on solitary confinement was announced.
Amid nationwide calls for criminal justice reform, Antonini said she’s hopeful her cause can find traction. Last week, she held a Facebook Live event with State Sen. Randolph Bracy, who filed a bill in this year’s legislative session that would limit the felony murder rule to accomplices who helped commit or plan the slaying.
For decades, it's been the same story every summer in Florida prisons. Despite being one of the hottest states in the country, the vast majority of dorms in public correctional facilities have no air conditioning and offer little relief from the heat.
Laurette Philipsen says conditions were rough throughout her eight and a half years at Lowell Correctional Institute in Marion County, but summers were by far the most dreaded time of year.
The Florida Department of Corrections operates 50 “major facilities” across the state. Only 18 of them have air conditioning in “most of their housing,” according to the department.
FAMM, Florida Cares to launch an interactive exhibit featuring mock prison cell as part of Beat the Heat event
As part of an interactive exhibit called “Beat The Heat,” people can spend three minutes inside a mock prison cell to experience what more than 60,000 Florida inmates go through during the summer.
A majority of state correctional institutions still lack air-conditioning in housing areas.
FDOC reported that over 150 people replied by filing out the Public Hearing Appearance Request Record form. A reporter in the room counted well over a hundred attendees and there were people standing in the back because we ran out of seats!
Rita Mattson's son, Chad, has four years left to serve in a prison sentence for a 2010 DUI manslaughter conviction.
There is wide-spread unrest regarding proposed changes to inmate visitation at Florida prisons and Thursday, several groups voiced their concerns by protest.
The Florida Department of Corrections is looking into changing the rules for prison visitations. But, prison officials are getting pushback from different families and friends of inmates currently behind bars.
Senator Brandes once said that criminal justice reform hasn’t happened in Florida because people haven’t presented it to be important to the legislator. Now is the time to act!