No visits to Florida prisons this weekend; no answers as to why
by Mike Magnoli
Friday, August 18th 2017
PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. (CBS12) — CBS12 is investigating the mysterious situation involving all of the state's prisons. There will be no visitations this weekend at any of the 148 locations.
The Florida Department of Corrections says there is credible intelligence concerning a safety threat.
The DOC says this is the first time they've stopped all visits across the board, but the department says this involves sensitive information that they have not discussed with the media.
Meanwhile, a prison rights advocate says this is fishy and unfair.
"We have to take their word for it because they don't disclose any evidence and they're not actually saying anything," said advocate Paul Wright.
Wright was convicted for murder. In his own words, he shot a drug dealer and was sentenced to 25 years.
When released from prison, he started a newspaper for prisoners-- Prison Legal News. He is also now the Director of The Human Rights Defense Center.
Wright is frustrated that Florida's DOC won't answer any questions about the reported threat in the system. He says the public has the right to know more. Especially given the fact that your tax dollars fund the system --a budget of $2.4 billion; it has the largest staff of any state entity.
"And I don't think that's too much for us to ask of our public servants," Wright said.
The DOC will not say if the threats are connected to a rally tomorrow in the nations capitol: the event called "Millions for Prisoners’ Human Rights."
"In that context, this seems like just another effort from a fairly poorly run, mismanaged, brutal prison system," Wright said.
In a statement to CBS12, Florida's DOC says in part: "The Florida Department of Corrections foremost responsibility is to ensure the safety of Florida communities, staff and inmates."
Wright says this weekend's visits being cancelled is the latest move-- but one of many-- that comes from a department of corrections that is not-- and has never been-- held accountable.
"There is a lack of transparency in the institutions, this is more than a symptom than the underlying cause," Wright said.
Palm Beach County has the Southbay correctional facility and three work camps.