• Florida prison visits cut in half because of contraband, staff shortage

    By: Jenna Bourne , Action News Jax

    Updated:

    Contraband has gotten so bad in Florida prisons that the Florida Department of Corrections is cutting visitation in half.

    Action News Jax’s sister station in Orlando WFTV revealed that one inmate was using a contraband cellphone to harass a rape victim from behind bars.

    “They live in a hostile environment and this is their only link to the outside world,” said Jan Thompson.

    Five days a week, photographs are the only way for Thompson to see her husband.

    He’s got another decade left on his sentence at Union Correctional Institution.

    Starting on April 7, Thompson and other families across the state will soon only be able to visit their loved ones in prison every other weekend.

    “Why are you taking away my rights to see my husband? You’ve already taken away his rights. He can’t come home. I get that, OK? He did something wrong, he’s paying for it, OK? But why are you taking away my rights?” said Thompson.

    The Florida Department of Corrections blames staff shortages and contraband.

    Contraband has become such a problem that last week the DOC completely banned visitation at five Florida prisons, including Baker Work Camp and Columbia Correctional Institution.

    Previous Action News Jax investigations discovered that some contraband in local prisons is coming from corrections officers.

    “Oh yeah, cellphones, cigarettes, tobacco products,” said one local retired corrections officer.

    The DOC is working on introducing kiosks in all Florida prisons for video visitation.

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