By: Mark J. Crawford, Editor
Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Walter McNeil ordered the immediate termination of five Florida State Prison officers and another has resigned following allegations of abusing an inmate.
As a result of an on-going criminal investigation of an April 8 incident at the Starke prison, Lt. William Hinson, Sgt. Anthony Reed, Sgt. Richard Kross, Sgt. James Coleman, officer Charles Reames and officer Raymond Williams all lost their jobs. Reames resigned. The others were fired.
"I want to be crystal clear about this," McNeil said. "I will never tolerate inmate abuse. I will take swift, decisive action anytime it occurs."
McNeil said his goal is to rid the Florida prison system of the handful of employees with this mindset and that he intends to cooperate fully in prosecuting those engaged in criminal acts.
"I will also seek revocation of correctional officer certification for these officers," he said.
Upon completion of the investigation, the case will be turned over to the State Attorney's office for criminal prosecution.
Acting Inspector General Walt Murphree stated that despite these actions by a few officers, the department's employees routinely perform their duties faithfully.
"Each [officer] has a duty to report misconduct and I routinely see our employees coming forward reporting incidents and assisting investigators," said Murphree.
To protect the integrity of the investigation, the state said details of the incident cannot be released at this time. The inmate is receiving appropriate medical care. His injuries are consistent with a physical attack and are not life threatening.
McNeil said he would not allow the actions of a few to damage the reputation of all employees and the image of the Department of Corrections.
There were additional officers placed on administrative leave from FSP pending further investigation.
While details of what happened at the prison were not released, it has been widely reported that an inmate was pulled from his cell and beaten during a power outage believe their actions were not being recorded.
Video cameras were reportedly operational, however.
Several more are on leave from Union Correctional Institution pending investigation into a separate incident. Even less is known about this incident.