December 16, 2014
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Provided statement the Miami Herald refused to use:
“In an effort to increase accountability and reestablish the public’s trust, the Department formed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) that mandates that any questionable deaths will be investigated by FDLE. Today, FDLE is immediately notified of any death that occurs at any Florida Department of Corrections facility.
The suicides of Bernadette Gregory and Jerry Washington, and inmate-on-inmate death of Ricky Martin, were thoroughly investigated by DOC inspectors in 2009, 2013, and 2012, respectively. In the Gregory case, personnel action was taken against two correctional officers for not following procedure and for failing to protect an inmate.
Should any new information come forward on these, or any other cases, the Department will refer the information to FDLE for investigation.
In accordance with the Department’s commitment to operating in a transparent manner, the investigations into all three deaths are available on the Department’s transparency database.” – McKinley Lewis, Press Secretary
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – On Sunday, December 14, the Miami Herald published two articles with misleading and incomplete information and false and inflated data. We take this opportunity to set the record straight:
MYTH: “Gregory’s 2009 death is one of many that don’t seem to add up but have nevertheless been tucked away in the department’s files, categorized as suicides, homicides, accidents or natural deaths.”
FACT: The Inspector General’s report has not been “tucked away”. The report is available online. As is the case in every in-custody death at any Department of Corrections facility, the Medical Examiner, not the Department, determines the cause and manner of death.
MYTH: More than 90 percent of Florida prison deaths are deemed “natural” — a higher percentage than in comparable states. There is no way to glean if the classification is justified.
FACT: The Medical Examiner, an independent entity appointed by the Florida Medical Examiner’s Commission, whose sole responsibility is to perform post-mortem examinations, determines the cause and manner of death.
MYTH: Washington’s death, like many at the prison, was never investigated by outside law enforcement. The DOC didn’t notify the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
FACT: In accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding between the Florida Department of Corrections and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement in effect at the time of Washington’s death, the DOC has discretionary reporting authority to FDLE following the suicide of an inmate. In the past few months, the Department has reported all questionable inmate deaths to FDLE. Since August 20, 2014, FDLE has had full investigative authority on all in-custody deaths, including the 82 death investigations that were pending on that date.
As Florida's largest state agency, the Department of Corrections employs more than 22,000 members statewide, incarcerates more than 100,000 inmates and supervises nearly 146,000 offenders in the community.