More than 97,000 prisoners across the state of Florida will reportedly not be able to leave their dorms or have certain privileges, as a lockdown was ordered the day after officials canceled visitations to all facilities.
On Wednesday, the Florida Department of Corrections (FDC) announced visitation to all facilities across the state would be canceled over the weekend in order to “ensure safety.”
The agency did not specify what led to the cancellation, only that they were responding to “credible intelligence indicating that small groups of inmates at several institutions may attempt to disrupt FDC operations and impact safety and security.”
Family reunification & visitation a top priority, FDC visitation cancellation is for potential impact to safety: https://t.co/7bfkQPLfL9
— FL Dept. Corrections (@FL_Corrections) August 17, 2017
Officials said they planned on “resuming normal visitation as soon as possible.” However, the Miami Herald reported Thursday that the entire Florida prison system would be on lockdown for an indefinite period of time.
The Herald reported that the FDC told them that all recreational, vocational and educational programs were canceled for the lockdown as well as all rehabilitation and ministry programs.
The statewide lockdown also means more than 97,000 inmates in 148 facilities will be confined to their dorms except for meal times, according to the most recent numbers posted on the FDC website.
Michelle Glady, a spokeswoman for the FDC, said only inmates at the Franklin Correctional Institution will be on full lockdown and will not receive any privileges because of a security concern.
“Everything we are doing is based on the safety of the institutions, the staff and the inmates,” Glady told the Herald. “These steps are being taken out of an abundance of caution.”
While the FDC did not provide a reason for the lockdown, Ron McAndrew, a former Florida prison warden told the Herald that the FDC “must have a verified threat of some kind” to call for a statewide lockdown.
“When it’s statewide — that is really serious business,” McAndrew said.
The FDC told WFTV that the no visitation order issued Wednesday has nothing to do with the lockdown order.
The Herald pointed out that the lockdown was confirmed two days before the Millions for Prisoners’ Human Rights March on Washington is scheduled to take place.
A group of prisoner advocates plans to march on the White House Saturday, demanding“the 13th amendment enslavement clause of the United States Constitution be amended to abolish legalized slavery in America.”
On Wednesday, the organizers of the march tweeted a link to an article from the Herald about the FDC cancelling visitation for the weekend.
“Prisons around the nation will probably be shutting down, and punish any prisoner that mention human rights,” the organizers tweeted.
Prisons around the nation will probably be shutting down, and punish any prisoner that mention human rights https://t.co/So837zVNm8
— MillionsforPrisoners (@milli4prisoners) August 17, 2017
Ashley Cook, a spokeswoman for the FDC, told the Orlando Sentinel the department did not order the lockdown as a result of the march itself, however, she said the inmates may have planned actions based on the march.
McAndrew told the Miami Herald that the lockdown could cause tensions to escalate, citing the lack of air conditioners in the facilities.
“The summer, it gets so damn hot,’’ McAndrew said. “Imagine if you had to sleep in your bedroom or stay in your home, locked in without any air-conditioning — try it for one night. You would not be able to sleep.”