Why Did 346 Inmates Die In Florida Prisons In 2014?

| by Michael Allen

The State of Florida had 346 people die inside its prisons last year.

NPR notes that Florida has 100,000 inmates, the third-largest prison population in the U.S., but the state's prison budget has been reduced by a half-billion dollars over the past six years.

State Sen. Greg Evers told NPR there may be a cover-up by authorities regarding prison abuse, but Julie Jones, Florida's Department of Corrections secretary, claims most of the deaths were by natural causes and denied there was a crisis.

The New York Times noted the State of Florida fought in court and won the right to outsource its prison health care to private companies in 2013.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott outsourced prison health care to Corizon, a company based in Tennessee, which had been sued hundreds of times, according to

"If we can provide a great service at a better price, then we ought to be doing that," Scott assured Floridians about the private prison health care deal in 2013, Tampa Bay Times reported.

The Palm Beach Post reported in 2014 how privatized prison health care had led to the suffering and deaths of inmates.

The Miami Herald noted in a series of investigative articles in 2014 about prison torture, deaths and a possible cover-up by prison officials in Florida.

In September 2014, then-Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Michael Crews fired 32 prison guards accused of criminal misconduct and/or wrongdoing based upon the deaths of inmates at four Florida prisons, according to Reuters.

Crews himself resigned in November 2014, reported the Sun-Sentinel.

The U.S. Justice Department announced in December 2014 that it was looking into the prison deaths, noted WJCT.

Sources: NPR, Miami Herald, WJCT, Reuters, Sun-Sentinel, The New York Times, Tampa Bay Times, The Palm Beach Post,
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