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Omnibus Prison Reform Package Passes First Senate Panel, Will See More Changes

Credit MGN Online

A Senate panel unanimously passed an omnibus package aimed at reforming Florida’s troubled prison system Monday. It includes creating a nine-member oversight board that can do surprise inspections, convene public hearings, and conduct independent investigations of correctional facilities. That part is authored by Sen. Rob Bradley (R-Fleming Island).

“I think real reform in this area will only be achieved if we fundamentally change the accountability system that’s in place for Corrections,” said Bradley. “We talk a lot in Tallahassee about accountability when it comes to health care and education, and I believe in accountability in those areas. And, I think it holds true for accountability in our Criminal Justice system and our Prison system.”

But, some lawmakers on the Senate Criminal Justice disagreed with that part of bill, saying that allowing for the Governor to make board appointments turn into a political battlefield.

Other areas in the comprehensive bill include more training for correctional officers, tracking use of force incidents, and making sure inmates get adequate health care. The Florida Department of Corrections has come under intense scrutiny for inmate deaths and its handling of the death investigations.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter: @SaschaCordner .

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