March 21, 2018
Setting the Record Straight: Women describe ‘degrading’ strip searches at Baker prison visitation
Today the Florida Times Union published an article, “Women describe ‘degrading’ strip searches at Baker prison visitation,” in which they declined to include all the information provided by the Department. This story is misleading and doesn’t present the facts, we are taking this opportunity to set the record straight.
FDC Secretary Julie Jones: “The Department is committed to preventing the introduction of contraband and upholding the safety and security of our correctional institutions. Contraband is a growing national issue, and our staff work tirelessly to find innovative and intelligence-led methods to combat this dangerous trend.
Last year we welcomed more than 153,000 visitors making nearly 700,000 total visits to our correctional institutions throughout Florida. We know how important these visits are for inmates and their loved ones, and we are using every method available to us to ensure this process can continue in a safe manner for both inmates and staff."
- FDC’s visitor search procedure is compliant with Federal and State law and follows national standards in place at correctional system’s across the country. Visitors are searched by officers of the same gender.
- Visitor brochures were distributed statewide; the website was updated and FDC posted information on social media in July to educate visitors what to expect for searches.
- Visitation has not decreased because of searches.
- Visitation at Baker CI is one the highest averages in the Region.
- For July 2017 – December 2017 the average daily visitors statewide was 48 visitors per day.
- For July 2017 – December 2017 the average daily visitors at Baker CI was 75 visitors per day.
- More than 90% of Florida’s inmates are male, and the majority of adult visitors are female (mothers, wives, girlfriends). Of the visitors approved to visit inmates in Florida, two-thirds are women. Baker CI is an all male facility.
- Ms. Mathis was denied entry after being unable to clear the enhanced visitor search process on July 2, 2017. However, she has visited the institution 36 times since that date, including July 4, 2017.
- Ms. Thomas was allowed entry after clearing the enhanced visitor search process on July 2, 2017. Upon review by institutional staff, there does not appear to be any record of her cane being withheld throughout the enhanced visitor search process or any sort of complaint filed relating to this search. Thomas also visited the institution on July 30, 2017.
- Visitors with medical issues that prevent them from clearing our metal detectors are allowed entry as long as they provide the appropriate medical documentation to staff.
- The Enhanced Search Procedure was implemented July 2017 and allows visitors the option to undergo enhanced searches so that they’re still able to visit their loved ones despite being unable to clear our metal detectors. The searches focus only on the section of the body that is not clearing our metal detectors.
- The ultimate goal of enhanced searches is to improve safety for staff and inmates. The Enhanced Search Procedure is done to ensure visitors are not concealing contraband.
As Florida's largest state agency, the Department of Corrections employs 24,000 members statewide, incarcerates approximately 96,000 inmates and supervises nearly 166,000 offenders in the community.