TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Days after the I-Team exposed huge problems with Florida’s Department of Corrections, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced big signing bonuses for corrections officers.
Now, he’s announcing a change in leadership at the department. Secretary Mark Inch has announced he plans to retire next month after spending less than three years on the job.
MORE COVERAGE | I-TEAM: CRISIS IN CORRECTIONS
Inch previously ran the U.S. Army prison system and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. During his short tenure in Florida, he was not able to turn around a crisis in corrections.
As the I-Team has reported as part of our ongoing "Crisis in Corrections" investigation, Inch leaves behind a troubled agency that has a 30-percent vacancy rate for corrections officers.
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The Florida D.O.C. is under federal investigation for sexual assaults at its largest women’s facility, has paid out millions in lawsuits related to substandard health care and employee misconduct, and has had to shut down prisons and programs in recent months.
During his tenure, Inch shared inspirational videos with inmates, staff and families, including a message posted last December called “Find Peace and Goodwill”.
”When I am tired, I become discouraged. In other words, I start to lose courage. Deep inside me, my heart hurts, and my spirit sinks. I have trouble sleeping. I wonder can it get any worse? Can I bare more? That old Army voice inside my head sometimes suggests at times like this that it might be time to just take a knee or pop smoke,” Inch said in the video, which is posted on the Florida D.O.C. YouTube page.
FDOC Deputy Secretary Ricky Dixon has been appointed the new secretary. He has more than 25 years of experience with the department.
The I-Team requested an interview with Secretary Inch last month, but he declined our request.
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In the ABC Action News series, Crisis in Corrections, the I-Team reveals the factors building to what state leaders call a breaking point in the Florida Department of Corrections. What’s at stake in the state’s largest agency and the third-largest prison system in the country and the impact beyond prison gates.