The lockdown has been lifted. All facilities have resumed normal operations in accordance with the new policies and procedures.
Due to numerous instances of staff and inmate exposure to suspicious substances, the Department of Corrections (DOC) initiated a system-wide lockdown on Wednesday, August 29, 2018. Initiation of this lockdown also cancelled all inmate visits and stopped the processing of all mail to and from facilities. Immediately following the lockdown, the use of personal protective equipment, particularly gloves, was mandatory for all employees and official visitors to institutions. In addition, each institution and parole office provided mandatory training on situational awareness to all employees.
The DOC has identified seven different methods in which drugs may be introduced to the institutions:
From January – June 2018 the Department saw 2,034 drug incidents involving 1,802 inmates. Of these incidents, 309 were discovered via mail and visitation. The remaining were discovered later inside the prison or via inmate urinalysis testing. Forty percent (40%) of the drugs introduced to State Correctional Institutions (SCI's) are synthetic cannabinoids.
Over the past week, the DOC has begun implementing or expanding the following to combat the introduction of drugs into the facilities:
1.Immediate elimination of mail processing at facilities
Effective immediately, all inmate mail will be sent to a central processing facility where it will be opened, scanned and emailed back to the facilities. Initially, this process will take a few days however, after the initial 90 day transition period, mail will be delivered the day after it has been received. Mail delivery will be expanded to 6 days per week.
Each facility will print the mail and deliver it to the inmates effectively eliminating any possibility of drug introduction through the mail system. Effective immediately, all mail that was collected during the lockdown will be returned to sender – no exceptions.
Effective immediately, all inmate mail should now be shipped to the following address utilizing existing DOC mail rules:
Inmate Name/Inmate Number
PO Box 33028
St Petersburg FL 33733
Envelopes must include a return address. Photos will be limited to 25 per mailing. Any mailing received with more than 25 photos will be returned to sender.
Legal mail will be copied in a centralized, contained location in front of the inmate by staff wearing protective equipment. A dedicated copier will be used strictly for legal mail and will follow strict cleaning protocol to ensure that any contamination is contained to a specific area of the institution. The process will be recorded and preserved for a period of 45 days.
3.Visit Room Modifications (90 days)
Effective immediately, the DOC is doubling all staffing in visit rooms. In addition, the DOC is implementing a 90-day moratorium on photos and vending. Drugs are often introduced via photos in the visiting room and drugs are passed between visitor and inmate via food/drink. A moratorium on both photos and food will allow us to stabilize the visiting room and prevent the introduction of contraband through this method. The DOC will reevaluate the visiting room procedures during this 90-day period to determine what the next steps may be.
In addition to the visit room modifications, an enhanced policy on drug introduction by visitors and/or inmates is in process. This policy will provide for stricter punishment for the introduction of drugs through the visiting room as well as for inmates who may use or have possession of drugs within the institution.
There will be an indefinite ban for any visitor caught introducing contraband into visit rooms.
Visit suspensions will be put in place for inmates confirmed in possession of or testing positive for drugs*:
1st offense – 6 month suspension
2nd offense – 12 month suspension
3rd offense – indefinite suspension of visits
*Inmates suspended from visits will still have access to attorneys and Official Visitors.
4.Books & Publications
Effective immediately, the DOC will begin to transition to ebooks coupled with bolstered DOC library system featuring centralized purchasing and ordering process. No books or publications will be shipped directly to an inmate.
Inmates will have access to a "publication request icon" on existing kiosks and all requests will be forwarded to central office for processing once the publication/book has been paid for by a cash slip. Central office will purchase in bulk from various sellers to prohibit the introduction of contraband.
Friends and family may make requests to purchase books for inmates and may pay for those items via an account specifically for this purpose. Once payment has been received, the DOC will order the publication and ship it to the institution where the inmate resides.
5.Expansion of drone detection software and capabilities
The DOC currently has drone detection capabilities at several of our facilities. This software allows for not only the detection but also the tracking of drone activity within the limits of our facilities so that we can identify and combat the introduction of contraband via drones.
6.Enhanced commitment reception protocol
The return of Parole Violators and introduction of new commits is problematic and another way that contraband is introduced into the facilities. A team has been put together to look at this process and enhancements will be forthcoming.
7.Expanded use of body scanners
The DOC is expanding its use of body scanners which have the ability to detect contraband on or within a person. These units have been successfully implemented in both SCI Coal Township and Wernersville Community Corrections Center. It is anticipated that all institutions will receive their scanners within 90 days.
8.Improved Ion Scanners.
The DOC is implementing an enhanced ion scanning technique through the use of Rapiscan. This system is an upgraded version of the existing technology that are within our institutions today. The DOC is purchasing at least two systems per facility. The systems will be placed at ingress points for both staff and visitors as well as within outside service units. This system has already been ordered and all facilities will have them in place over the course of the next 90 days.
9.Drug hotline – 717.728.4743
The DOC has implemented a hotline that anyone (including inmates) can call to report information related to the introduction of drugs or possession of drugs in a SCI by inmates, visitors, or staff members. Callers may remain anonymous but if you wish to speak with an investigator, you must leave your name and inmate number. Messages should provide as much detail as possible so an appropriate and thorough investigation can occur.