The two DVDs were only minutes long but they depicted deplorable conditions in the state’s prison system: uninhabitable dorms, inmate-on-staff assaults and roofs that were so porous that prison staff rigged sheets of cardboard to serve as makeshift gutters.
It was a vivid example of chronic underfunding and understaffing at the Florida Department of Corrections, and then-Secretary Michael Crews wanted to show them to legislators last year in his effort to make the case for more money.
But the graphic pictures didn’t fit the jobs message of Gov. Rick Scott, who came into office vowing to cut $1 billion from prisons. The governor’s office ordered Crews not to show them. He made copies and distributed them to the chairmen of legislative committees anyway and, while no one agreed to show them publicly, Rep. Charles McBurney, R-Jacksonville, encouraged his budget committee to take a look.
The governor’s office says it doesn’t know who Crews shared the videos with, but it is now embracing the need for more money. Last year, however, the governor’s budget staff downsized Crews’ request for inmate food and for additional corrections staff, and the Legislature gave the DOC only some of what Crews sought. Another year of budget struggles at the troubled agency was underway. Read more here.