Shirsho Dasgupta is a reporter with the Miami Herald/McClatchy DC bureau. He has won an SPJ Dateline Award for Investigative Journalism and a Military Reporters and Editors’ Joe Galloway Award.
As temperatures in Florida soar into the 90s, accounts from inmates’ loved ones, shared with the Herald, provide a glimpse of the squalid condition of inmates housed in overcrowded prisons without proper ventilation.
A line item in Florida’s $92 billion budget was aimed at addressing such issues: $2 million to create a modernization plan, including installing air-conditioning. The item got the ax when Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed $1 billion to address COVID-19-related expenses.
William Forrester has 11 more months to come out of prison but fears he won’t.
“I have less than a year left before I go home, I’ve waited 12 years to say that,” he wrote in a July 7 email shared with the Miami Herald.
Six days later, he tested positive for COVID-19.
The Kansas City Police Department is the only one among the 100 McClatchy reviewed that did not meet any of the five criteria put forth by the nonprofit Campaign Zero on rules surrounding the reporting of use of force.
An exclusive McClatchy survey of police departments in the 100 biggest American cities found that 40 police forces have made at least one change to their use-of-force policy — including the use of deadly or lethal force, in June, after protests rocked the nation.
Since the Defense Department 1033 program was launched, the number of weapons transferred to police departments has dramatically climbed. For example, the Defense Department transferred 13,259 guns and gun accessories to police departments from 1990 to 1999. In the past decade, it transferred 201,813 guns and gun accessories, such as assault rifles and night-vision sights.
McClatchy found that seven of the top 15 police departments with the highest number of police officer-involved fatalities — when adjusted for population — also received a higher share of the Defense Department’s excess guns.
Accounts of inmates shared with the Miami Herald, sometimes on condition of anonymity, reveal the impact of the coronavirus as it surged through Florida’s prison system. As of Monday, 17 prison deaths had been attributed to the virus, and more than 1,500 inmates and 290 staffers had been infected.
Nearly 5,000 other inmates were in some kind of quarantine or isolation and 90 tests were pending. More than 13,000 tests had come up negative.
State and local officials insist they were blindsided by the arrival of a Federal Bureau of Prisons riot-control team in Miami on Monday, purportedly to assist the local police in clamping down on people protesting the killing by Minnesota police officers of George Floyd.
It was the same day that President Donald Trump said he would send federal military personnel to various locales if state governors and city mayors did not take a tougher approach in handling protests.
Records released Thursday by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement amid a dispute between news outlets and the agency provide evidence of the heartbreaking toll of the coronavirus, including the critical days before Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered a lockdown.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement released new data Thursday on Floridians who have died from COVID-19. And as has been its custom, the state didn’t provide the names of the dead.
But one prominent medical examiner refused to go along.
Stephen Nelson, medical examiner for Polk, Highlands and Hardee counties as well as chairman of the state Medical Examiners Commission, did his own records release for his own counties, and it includes what the state left out: names of those who have succumbed to the disease.
The Treasury Department is working with lawmakers — including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio — toward a compromise on changing a heavily criticized rule that excludes small business owners with any sort of criminal record from applying for certain loans from the Small Business Administration.
A new emergency rule by Gov. Ron DeSantis, implemented to prevent people with COVID-19 from being transferred back to their nursing homes while contagious, can have unintended consequences, as an aging Cuban exile leader recently learned.
Florida’s Department of Corrections has proposed a new rule to house ‘problem inmates’ with histories of drug abuse or gang violence. The proposal has triggered concerns that the department is using the COVID-19 outbreak as a smokescreen to push through new operating standards.
The Florida Legislature has always given deference to private prison contractors, who pump millions of dollars into political campaigns. The COVID-19 deaths of six inmates at a privately run prison are unlikely to change that.
Tomoka Correctional in Daytona Beach is the latest prison to become a coronavirus hot spot. Hoping to control the spread, the Florida Department of Corrections is busing non-symptomatic inmates to another facility.
Cases of COVID-19 in Florida prisons may be metastasizing and so are the fears of staffers, lawmakers and family members of inmates, who wonder what is being done to keep inmates and employees safe as the highly contagious virus spreads.
At least four inmates have died, nearly one in three inmate tests are coming back positive and there’s little information on exactly who is being tested and when.
The first inmate deaths weren’t acknowledged by the Florida Department of Corrections for six days — and only after a news organization revealed them.