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Prison employees detail troubles in letters to lawmaker

In the last month, a series of letters from worried employees at the Florida Department of Corrections arrived in the mail box of Sen. Greg Evers, chairman of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee.

Employees detailed tales of corrupt officers, onerous staffing conditions, being coached to answer an employee survey, and an atmosphere in which anyone faced retaliation if they spoke up about allegations of agency corruption.

Evers, R-Baker, who has conducted nearly a dozen surprise visits to prisons around the state, said he confirmed the identity of the anonymous employees by speaking to them on the phone but agreed to shield their identities. He said he solicited none of the letters, though he gave people his email and cell phone number. He is now considering having some appear under oath before the committee.

“I want to be sure there is a good working environment at DOC and ease employee fears that if there’s something wrong they can come forward without retribution,’’ he told the Herald/Times.

At his committee meeting Monday, Evers got assurance from DOC Secretary Julie Jones that her agency would not retaliate against any corrections officer who comes forward. “They will have free passage,’’ Jones told the committee when asked by Evers.

More here.