Protecting Incarcerated Loved Ones in Florida: Inmate Injury and Wrongful Death
Having a loved one placed in one of the 50 major correctional institutions in Florida is a difficult thing for families and friends; this difficulty is only exacerbated when they learn from their loved ones that their rights have been violated, or worse they learn their loved one has been injured or has died unexpectedly due, perhaps, to injustice.
Many times, when inmates suffer from: injuries due to negligence, wrongful deaths, or other injustices, this leaves families and friends feeling helpless when trying to get answers from the jail or prison system. What they should remember is: just because their loved ones are incarcerated doesn't mean they've lost their rights; also, these rights can be upheld and injustices can be rectified with legal help.
According to FindLaw, the rights of inmates include:
- The right to humane facilities and conditions
- The right to be free from sexual crimes
- The right to be free from racial segregation
- The right to express condition complaints
- The right to assert their rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act
- The right to medical care and attention as needed
- The right to appropriate mental health care
- The right to a hearing if they are to be moved to a mental health facility
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While these rights are granted to inmates, many times they aren't adhered to, which can lead to injury and even death for inmates. Behind the closed doors of jails and prisons, correctional officers and medical staff, all to often, may feel they can get away with mistreating inmates because they judge them for simply being in there; even though, inmates in jail might not even be convicted yet, and the U.S. Constitution grants all inmates the rights we listed above.
Florida Inmates and the Privatized Health Care Problem
According to the Florida Department of Corrections (FDC) website, there were 96,253 inmates incarcerated in their 50 major correctional institutions and numerous satellite facilities across the state in the fiscal year 2017-2018.
To put this in perspective, out of the 50 U.S. States, Florida has the 10th highest incarceration rate per population and the 3rd largest inmate population overall.
And when it comes to inmate deaths in the fiscal year 2017-18, according to the FDC's website, Florida had a total of 481 deaths: 331 natural, 85 accident, 8 homicide, 17 suicide, 40 pending – this is the highest amount of deaths recorded in the last 5 years, even with a slight decrease of inmate population since the fiscal year 2013-14, from 100,942 to 96,253.
An article found on Prison Legal News, called: "Florida Prisoner Deaths Spike with Privatized Prisoner Health Care", written on April 25th, 2017 by David Reutter, explains more:
With the advent of privatized prisoner health care in Florida, a spike in deaths has hit levels not seen in 10 years.
...Concern of prisoner health care was fully adopted. By January 2014 – or roughly 100 days after the prisons profiteers took over prisoner care – the monthly prisoner death count shot to a 10-year high of 36 individuals, reported the Palm Beach Post.privatization is an understatement for what has transpired since
...PLN has been publishing evidence to prove that privatized prison health care provided by these companies is definitely more about profit than it is about providing proper care, which results in deaths, disfigurement, and unnecessary pain to prisoners subjected to profiteering that masquerades as taxpayer savings.Author in Source Title
As of 2012, Florida is one of 20 states that have privatized prison healthcare , and it doesn't take much research into this topic for one to see this has been a disaster for inmates. Families and friends should keep this in mind when advocating for their incarcerated loved ones in a Florida correctional institution.
The article quoted from above details multiple incidences of medical negligence, malpractice, wrongful deaths, and inmate injuries occurring from injustices and right's violations within jails and prisons in Florida alone.
Along with a sharp spike in deaths, one could surmise there are also increases with negligence, preventable injuries, and other injustices occurring within Florida's jails and prisons. With the incentive of profit being paramount in prison health care, the inmate's rights we listed above are all too often being broken and disregarded.
Ultimately, it's up to the families and friends of incarcerated loved ones to advocate for them, in order to ensure their rights are being respected and upheld. When the authorities in charge are being held accountable by the law, they'll make more of an effort to protect the inmate in question. And if injustices have occurred already, liable parties should be held accountable and pay the price.
Beyond Medical Injustices
Receiving adequate medical care is only one of the rights inmates have; many times, injustices in jail or prison are in the form of:
- denial of complaints
- excessive force from correctional officers and police
- being subjected to inhumane conditions
- disregarded pleas for safety from sexual crimes
- disregarded pleas for safety from violent inmates
Serving time in a jail or prison away from society, family, and friends, is punishment enough, inmates shouldn’t be subjected to further punishment because of purposeful or accidental negligence of those working for the FDC.
And in the case of inmates in jails, many times, they haven't even been convicted of a crime yet. Ultimately, no matter what the crime or state of conviction is, inmates still have rights that should be respected and upheld. If and when these rights are disregarded, unfortunate and tragic injuries and wrongful deaths can and do occur.
What to Do When Injustices Occur?
If an inmate's rights have or may have been violated, family or friends should contact a lawyer with experience and expertise in dealing with correctional institutions and Florida law.
Many times, inmates don't understand or know the extent of their rights, which can lead them to disregard and not demand their rights be upheld; family and friends of inmates may also not understand their loved one's rights in jail or prison. By consulting a Florida lawyer that does understand inmate rights and how to uphold them legally, injustices can be remedied and compensation can be paid to deserving parties.
Originally published in Business and Society Articles June 16th, 2018
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