Florida’s Lethal Indifference to prisoners dying of Covid-19: Florida leads the nation in inmate death rate
Florida’s indifference to prisoners dying of COVID-19 is lethal in the most literal sense, said the Sun Sentinel’s Editorial board in an Oct. 25 editorial.
“Indifference can be just as deadly as intent,” the editorial asserted.
COVID-19 has killed 154 Florida prison inmates as of Oct. 25. Florida inmate deaths are a close second to Texas, leading the nation with 161 inmate deaths due to COVID-19.
Florida leads the nation in COVID-19 inmate death rate, however. Texas may have more deaths, but Texas also has about twice as many prisoners in their state compared to Florida. That means Florida’s death rate for prisoners who contract COVID-19 is roughly twice as high as Texas.
“Florida prisoners are being infected and dying at dramatically higher rates than Florida’s overall population,” the editorial states.
Florida’s prisons, compared to Florida as a whole, concerning COVID-19 infections:
- More than 4x as many COVID-19 infections
- More than 2x more deaths compared to infection rate
- Prison employees in Florida have contracted COVID-19 at a rate 3x higher than general public
“The first line of defense against the deadly coronavirus should be to release as many inmates as safely possible,” the editorial suggests. It adds that ideal candidates for release are people who have served most of their sentence, committed nonviolent crimes and who pose little danger to society.
Florida isn’t even actively trying to reduce prison populations due to COVID-19.
The Department of Corrections doesn’t have the authority to release people before their sentences are over – but others, such as Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Cabinet – do. “They have unlimited clemency powers,” the editorial board asserts. With minimal effort, an impact could be made on the prison health crisis.
One of the many contributing factors to the crisis: Florida’s prisons are NOT air conditioned. Only 18 of Florida’s 50 major prison facilities have air conditioning in most of their housing areas, according to WLRN in 2019.
Without air conditioning – the editorial board points out – “there is no practical way to filter out the virus.”
One of the only positives of this situation is that there are fewer prison inmates and even fewer inmates in county jails this year as compared to last year. With nearly 17% fewer county jail inmates, Broward County Chief Public Defender Gordon Weeks chalks that up to police taking fewer non-violent offenders to jail during the pandemic.
More should certainly be done to combat this issue. This is a human rights issue, bottom-line. To learn more in depth information about the issue be sure to check out the Sun Sentinel Editorial here.
How we can help Florida Prison Inmates during the Coronavirus Pandemic
While we can’t offer a sweeping solution to this monumental issue – we’re offering the help we’re able to. Lives are at stake, and we’re here to help the best way we know how.
If you believe you may apply for early release, compassionate release, or home confinement but are worried you may not be granted your request; you need to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Rossen Law Firm is a Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney, and we’re working together with other local attorneys we trust with extensive federal case experience to help inmates get compassionate release. Our partners are former Assistant State Attorneys for Broward County and Assistant United States Attorney for the government.
If you or a loved one are currently incarcerated for a nonviolent crime, or are elderly or have a health condition, and believe you may apply for compassionate release — Rossen law Firm can be your guide through this tough time and work with you & our partners with knowledge of the Federal Law to increase the chances of your possibility of release.
Don’t wait – reach out today. Call our office at (754) 206 -6200.
A qualified, knowledgeable attorney whose practice focuses on federal law can make all the difference for early release as opposed to just hoping you are one of the lucky who applies for this option under consideration by the powers that be.
If someone you care about is incarcerated in federal prison as the coronavirus spreads exponentially, we urge you to contact our office at (754) 206-6200 as soon as you can. We will personally look into the possibility of our assistance with compassionate release, and other methods of early discharge from a federal facility.