News from Tallahassee for 12/21/14

Florida Corrections Chief Stepping Down posted on 11/25/14


FL Dept of Corrections sealGov. Rick Scott's corrections chief, Mike Crews, announced Monday he is stepping down from the agency grappling with reports of abuse by prison guards, allegations of retaliation against whistle-blowers and a multimillion-dollar deficit.

Crews did not immediately return a telephone call, but Department of Corrections spokeswoman Jessica Cary confirmed the secretary made his resignation public within the agency Monday morning.

Crews, whose resignation has been the subject of rumors for months, is the first agency head to step down since Scott's re-election Nov. 4.

Crews, 53, was the third Department of Corrections secretary appointed during Scott's first term in office.

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Gov. Scott signs death warrant for 21st execution posted on 11/25/14

by Steve Bousquet | Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau

Gov. Rick Scott on Monday signed the death warrant for Johnny Shane Kormondy, who killed a Pensacola banker and repeatedly raped his wife as the couple returned home from her 20th high school reunion in 1993. Kormondy is set to die on Jan. 15, 2015.

In a summary of the case, the governor's office said that Kormondy shot Gary McAdams in the back of the head, killing him, and was the leader of the attack on the McAdamses, having recruited accomplices, provided transportation and cased the neighborhood prior to the crime. Kormondy also threatened to kill witnesses who testified at his trial -- including Cecilia McAdams -- if he were released from prison.

Kormondy was convicted of first-degree murder and three counts of sexual battery. The jury recommended a death sentence by a vote of 8 to 4 and he received life sentences on each of the sexual battery counts. Kormondy, 42, has spent half of his life on Death Row at Florida State Prison in Starke.

Kormondy would be the 21st person to be executed since Scott took office as governor in January 2011. That would tie the number of executions ordered by former Gov. Jeb Bush, who served two terms for a total of eight years from 1999-2007.

Report: Should Florida DOC Sec. Serve Set Term, Rethink Hiring Methods? posted on 11/18/14

by Sascha Cordner | WFSU

Should the head of Florida’s prison system serve a set term—sort of, decoupling the position from the Governor's term? Or might the state Department of Corrections rethink its methods when hiring new personnel?

Those are just some of the recommendations made by a Florida State University think tank looking at ways to improve Florida’s troubled corrections process. Project on Accountable Justice director Deborah Brodsky says one example is for the department to consider officers’ educational backgrounds and its minimum hiring age of 19.

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Prison officials lose two years of emails in botched repair posted on 10/30/14

by matt dixon | Scripps/Tribune Capital Bureau

FL Dept of CorrectionsTALLAHASSEE — Every email sent or received from the embattled Florida Department of Corrections for nearly two years was destroyed in 2012 — a massive loss of the records that help document the agency’s actions.

The department acknowledged only recently, in response to inquiries over the past 12 months from the Tribune/Scripps Capital Bureau, that emails from January 2007 through September 2008 were destroyed. The department’s top information officer, Douglas B. Smith, called it a “significant loss of data.”

“All data sent and received by DOC staff statewide through email from each institution, community corrections, health services, and all other business units within the department for the entire year of 2007 and from January through September of 2008 were destroyed and are no longer retrievable,” Smith wrote in a letter dated Aug. 6 that Tribune/Scripps received only last week.

Smith said the records were destroyed in March 2012 during “an attempt to fix a hardware problem” by the Southwood Shared Resource Center, a state-owned data center that houses information for state departments and agencies.

The destruction of such a large number of public records is significant because it eliminates a trail of electronic evidence the agency is required to maintain to document its actions. State agencies are required to maintain and make public records accessible to citizens under Florida’s Sunshine Law and are required to retain documents, including e-mails and other electronic messages, for a period based on the subject of the communication.

According to the state’s retention policy for electronic communication, “Retention periods are determined by the content, nature, and purpose of records, and are set based on their legal, fiscal, administrative, and historical values, regardless of the format in which they reside or the method by which they are transmitted.”

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DOC Sec. Crews And Families Protesting Inmate Abuse Meet, Part Ways Amicably posted on 10/28/14

by Sascha Cordner | WFSU

An inmate abuse protest that started off at the Capitol Monday and ended at the Florida Department of Corrections left both sides parting ways amicably.

Ada Campos’ son, Justin, was serving a life sentence for killing two gang members. He claimed self-defense, but a judge didn’t agree. While housed in Jackson Correctional Institution, Campos says Justin got repeated calls and visits from his family.

“I’m going to be honest with you,” said Ada Campos. “I would have never known because my son was at Jackson CI, and he didn’t tell me until after he moved. He told me, you know, Mom, that was one of the toughest prisons, but the guards were taking really good care of him in that particular situation. The captain let me talk to him on the weekend. The guards would give him mail on the weekend. I mean he was like really blessed, he was well-respected.”

But, his mother says all that changed one day after he was attacked, leaving a gash on his face. For his safety, Justin Campos was later moved to Madison Correctional Institution. Weeks later, he died and Ada Campos says about a year later, she’s still waiting for answers. She recalled what happened when she spoke to the warden.

“I saw his assault,” she added. “The cut wasn’t like a one-inch. The cut was from his ear all the way down to his mouth. And, you know what retired officials have told me? That that’s either a mark for a snitch or you’re marked to die. And, I said ‘you’re guards didn’t know that at Jackson? I said you’re not going to tell me your guards don’t know that. If the inmates know it, how can the guards not know it?”

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