Lawmaker calls for state takeover of Gadsden women’s prison

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    In a letter sent Thursday to Gov. Rick Scott, state Rep. David Richardson (D-Miami) formally called for an emergency state takeover of the Gadsden Correctional women’s prison. According to Richardson, inmate health and safety are at risk and top-level personnel should be immediately removed. With over 1,500 inmates, Gadsden is the state’s largest privately-run women’s prison.

    Richardson-letter-to-ScottRichardson’s letter was delivered to the Governor by hand, and requested that Scott “direct the Florida Department of Corrections to install a temporary warden, chief of security . . . to restore order and reverse what I can only describe as a loss of institutional control.”

    Richardson is known to be an advocate for change in Florida’s prisons. His unannounced visits to the prison to inspect conditions there have created something of a stir in recent weeks. He was accompanied on each surprise visit by investigators from the Florida Office of the Chief Inspector General and the Department of Corrections. Richardson says a climate of mistreatment and secrecy exists in the prison and that management repeatedly “retaliated against inmates for discussing matters with [him].”

    Gadsden Correctional is a medium-security prison that houses 1,544 female inmates and is one of seven privately run facilities in the state. Gadsden is the only Florida prison managed by Management Training Corp. of Centerville, Utah.

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