All Florida prisons on partial lockdown after visitation canceled

All of Florida’s correctional facilities are on a partial lockdown, a department spokeswoman announced Thursday, one day after officials canceled visitation for this weekend.

The lockdown broadly means that inmates can move within some of the prisons’ indoor areas — including day rooms, phone areas, showers and meal halls — but cannot go outdoors to prison yards or participate in recreational programs, Florida Department of Corrections spokeswoman Ashley Cook said.

“It was out of an abundance of caution from the intelligence we received,” she said.

On Wednesday, the department announced that it had canceled all visitation across the state for Saturday and Sunday, except for the department’s work-release centers.

Department officials said they received “credible intelligence” about planned disruptions.

“In response to credible intelligence indicating that small groups of inmates at several institutions may attempt to disrupt FDC operations and impact safety and security, FDC has, in an abundance of caution and in the best interest of staff, inmate and public safety, canceled all visitation statewide,” a department spokesperson said in a statement.

Cook said she was not aware of another instance in recent memory in which visitation was canceled statewide. The closest occurrence she could remember was calling off visitation in October as Hurricane Matthew approached facilities near the storm’s path.

Officials declined to say how many facilities were involved, what the possible disruptions may be, and how they found out about them.

The statement said visitation will be restored “as soon as possible” but did not say when.

A group of prisoners’ advocates is planning a rally in Washington, D.C., on Saturday called the Millions for Prisoners Human Rights March. Cook said the department’s decisions were not related to the march itself, but that inmates’ planned actions may be related to the same cause.

There were 97,794 inmates in 148 Florida Department of Corrections prisons, correctional institutions and work facilities at the end of June. The department has an annual budget of $2.4 billion.

Officials do sometimes rescind visitation weekends for individual facilities. Jackson Correctional Institution in Malone — about 65 miles northeast of Panama City — has not had visitation for the last two weekends, records show.

Three more correctional institutions had visitation canceled for one weekend each this year: Jefferson Correctional Institution, about 30 miles east of Tallahassee, on Aug. 5-6; Everglades Correctional Institution on July 29-30; and the Wakulla Annex, about 15 miles south-southeast of Tallahassee, on July 22-23.

CHRIS SALAMONE

 

 

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Author: Chris Salamone

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