“Dehumanizing” Conditions Found In Florida Prisons

Photo: AP Photo/Andrew Selsky

A Florida lawmaker making unannounced visits to the state’s prisons says he has uncovered a pattern of dehumanizing treatment of inmates by prison staff.

Rep. David Richardson, D-Miami, says that basic necessities are being denied to troublesome inmates in particular. Things like pillows, sheets, soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and even toilet paper are being denied.Richardson says it’s all part of punishing misbehaving inmates.

“It is behavior that is intended to dehumanize them — treating them like an animal,” Richardson said.

Richardson says it’s not just material items that are withheld. He says he saw one inmate so sick he was throwing up, another inmate deprived of his inhaler, and an open wound on a third inmate. Richardson also says there are problems with ventilation.

Florida’s Department of Prisons denies all of what Richardson says he saw. The Department released the following statement:

“The Department does not withhold hygiene products from inmates and works continually to ensure all health, safety and hygiene standards are being met within our 149 facilities. Inmates are provided with necessary toiletries and given toilet paper per policy, in order to make certain the products are not being used to hide contraband or used to create a disturbance. Toilet paper is provided whenever an inmate runs out, or every ten days, whichever is sooner.  Clear direction has been given to each Warden in the state in order to ensure this expectation will continue to be met.
If an inmate is found to be without proper hygiene products, this is immediately addressed by the institution leadership.”