For Immediate Release: December 23, 2018
Campaign for Prison Reform Celebrates Restoration of Voting Rights and Calls on Florida Department of Corrections (FDC)
To Stop Separating Families
Four Simultaneous Events to be Held on
Tuesday, 1/8/2019 at 10:00 a.m.
One in Each FDC Region
Contact: Region 1: Lakey Love firstname.lastname@example.org, 850-345-0018.
Region 2: Karen Smith, email@example.com, 352-871-2277
Region 3: Kyle Williford firstname.lastname@example.org, 321-440-2166
Region 4: Steven Wetstein email@example.com, 305-226-2480, 786-239-0135
When: Tuesday, 1/8/2019 at 10:00 a.m.
What: Celebrations and Protests
Region 1: Florida Legislature, Tallahassee FL (details to be released later)
Region 2: Union County Courthouse, 55 West Main Street, Lake Butler, FL 32054
Region 3: Lake County Courthouse, 550 West Main Street, Tavares, FL 32778
Region 4: Miami-Dade County Courthouse, 73 West Flagler Street, Miami, FL 33130
Campaign for Prison Reform (CPR) (https://www.facebook.com/campaignforprisonreform), a statewide coalition of prison reform groups, worked hard for the passage of Amendments 4 and 11 in last November’s elections. These will, on January 8, 2019, restore the voting rights of convicted felons (Amendment 4) and allow for the retroactive application of sentencing reforms (Amendment 11), so that if a new law should be passed providing for less prison time for a given offense, it will apply to people already in prison serving a longer sentence for the same crime.
CPR is deeply concerned by two things that make it harder for prisoners and their loved ones to maintain family ties. First, the FDC has adopted a policy that bars housing any prisoner within 125 miles of their home county. This causes family members to travel much greater distances and pay for lodging and extra gas, forcing many to reduce their visits. This policy has been adopted outside the legal requirement to first propose policy changes and allow public comment.
Second, too many loved ones are losing their visits indefinitely on the grounds of trying to bring contraband onto prison grounds. CPR absolutely respects that contraband should never be allowed. But many people have lost their visits indefinitely after drug-sniffing dogs have reacted when near their cars and they have signed a form consenting to a search. If they do not consent, they must leave the prison and will lose their right to visit. When cars are searched, the FDC often reports that .1 gram of THC has been found loose on the carpeting and that this has been destroyed during testing. It is impossible to defend oneself when no one can be sure that a dog has actually smelled THC, the visitor has no realistic way of refusing consent and the “evidence” is destroyed. CPR believes that, while enforcing the law and keeping everyone safe, there are ways to do this without causing family members to lose visits with their loved ones.
We always stand ready to work with the FDC to create policies that are both effective and humane.
This event is being cosponsored by Stop Prison Abuse Now and Gainesville Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee.