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Florida inmates organize 'sit-down' protest against prison conditions

14 inmates refused to work at Taylor Correctional Institution
Posted at 4:23 PM, Jan 04, 2022

PERRY, Fla. — As our “Crisis in Corrections” investigation continues, the I-Team has learned that inmates in Florida prisons organized a “sit down” to protest prison conditions.

A flyer has been circulating among prisoners statewide for the past several days, according to multiple sources within the prison system, urging inmates to participate in a peaceful protest aimed at encouraging legislators to reform Florida’s prisons.

An email sent to us anonymously had links to multiple ABC Action News I-Team “Crisis in Corrections” stories, as well as information about a planned “sit-down” demonstration scheduled to begin Monday at Taylor Correctional Institution in Perry, Florida.

The flyer said, “This means W.A.R. (We Are Responding).”

The organizers stated the protest was aimed at addressing the following conditions (their descriptions) cited in the flyer:

  • To our conditions of slavery and forced free labor
  • To living in substandard conditions
  • To the lack of a real parole system
  • To unethical mental health and medical care
  • To unjust sentencing schemes and practices
  • To super-inflated canteen pricing
The so-called "W.A.R. Manifesto" circulated among prisoners, their families and then sent anonymously to ABC Action News.

According to an email from a Florida Department of Corrections spokesperson, 14 inmates… about one percent of the prison population at Taylor Correctional Institution… refused to work in food service on Monday.

The flyer encouraged prisoners statewide to refuse prison work assignments in an effort to send legislators a message.

The flyer said, “Year after year, they continue to fail to do anything comprehensive to fix and undo the atrocities and destruction caused by their criminal and inhumane legislation.”

Florida State Sen. Jeff Brandes agrees lawmakers haven’t done enough.

Florida Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) says legislators are to blame for many of the problems in the state's prisons.

“We have a better plan for electric vehicle charging infrastructure in the state of Florida than we do for our multi-billion-dollar department of corrections,” Brandes said. “It’s the legislature’s fault. At the end of the day, we have to put forth a strategic plan of how we’re gonna address facilities, staffing, inmate education, dealing with inmate idleness. We have to deal with all of these issues.”

The Florida Department of Corrections spokesperson said the sit-down at Taylor did not cause any disruptions to operations.

“This type of incident can be addressed by the institution on an individual basis. All inmates assigned to a particular job assignment are required to follow the rules and fulfill their work duties,” the emailed statement said.

Families of inmates told the I-Team other facilities went on lock-down or restricted inmate movements Monday as a result of the planned protests.

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