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Florida Conditions Lawsuit Settled After 21 years

After 21 years of protracted, time consuming and tedious litigation involving three correction's secretaries, four governors, thousands of inmates and millions of dollars, the Department of Corrections of Florida has finally resolved the legendary Costello lawsuit.

"For the first time in 21 years, the state of Florida--not the Federal Courts--has control of our prison system," Governor Lawton Chiles said.

The original suit was brought about because of overcrowding conditions and poor medical care. At a later date the prison food service also became an issue.

According to Corrections Secretary Harry K. Singletary, Jr., resolution of the long standing lawsuit was the result of much hard work by many parties. The lawsuit has been a major focus of many areas in the Florida Department of Corrections. "We are very pleased the courts have recognized our positive efforts aimed at improving care and treatment of our inmates," Singletary said. "It says we've made a great deal of progress." U.S. District Judge Susan Black even said that "we could be viewed as a model for other departments nationwide when it come[s] to dealing with overcrowding and corrections health care. I think her decision speaks for itself."

In delivering the courts opinion, Judge Black said," It is encouraging to see a major state such as Florida, with a significant prison population, taking such a creative step."

The most significant ingredient of the case was the creation of the Control Release Authority (CRA) and the Correctional Medical Authority (CMA) which monitors the way the Department of Corrections provides inmate medical care. According to corrections experts, Florida's CMA is now a national model which is being studied by other states as well.

-Corrections Compendium

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Related legal case

Costello v. Wainwright