The Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) has announced a planned Rule Change, 33-601.722, intended to significantly reduce prisoner visits, cutting visitation days by half and limiting visits to as little as two hours a day.
Click here to email the Department of Corrections which is accepting comments through April 13, 2018.
Florida is already one of the worst states for prison visitation (as it is with other prison policies). New York state prisons, for example, still have visitation seven days a week. An effort by their governor to cut back to weekends, in favor of expensive video calls, was defeated last year by public opposition.
Family members, prison policy experts and criminal justice organizations almost universally agree that contact with family and community in general, and in-person contact specifically, reduce the chance of recidivism and help to maintain security and good order in prisons. Yet in recent years, prison and jail officials nationwide have shifted towards a greater reliance on video calls.
Several news reports have identified the source of this shift as profit-driven contracts with private companies such as JPay and Securus, which merged into a single company in 2015 that currently operates in all FDOC facilities.
According to a 2017 review of these contracts by Human Rights Defense Center’s Campaign for Prison Phone Justice, commissions from Securus to the FDOC already total over $5 million annually at a rate of 35 percent of the cost of the contracts.
Contrary to the FDOC’s claims of security concerns, reducing in-person visits serves the dual purpose of 1) increasing profits to, and commissions from, private contractors and 2) further isolating prisoners from their families and communities, reducing prisoners' ability to expose abuses in the prison system.
If the FDOC is serious about saving money and increasing safety, it must start with a reduction in the state’s prison population rather than cutting back on basic human rights and public services. Click here now to send an urgent message.
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> Florida Department of Corrections: The proposed rule change