TALLAHASSEE, FL – Friday, July 20, 2018, after five months of speaking out against Florida Department of Corrections’ proposed rule change on visitation cuts the Florida’s Campaign for Prison Reform celebrates a victory for incarcerated individuals, their families and their loved ones across that state of Florida and thanks the Florida Legislature and the Joint Administrative Procedures Committee for following through with the administrative process which has concluded in the forced withdrawal of the proposed rule change.
As a collective we believe that the proposed reduction in visitation put forward by Florida Department of Corrections in February was both inhumane and unnecessary. We stand with the Florida Legislature in recognizing that visitation of incarcerated individuals by family and loved ones reduces recidivism and brings transparency to what is happening to Florida’s 98,000 incarcerated individuals behind the walls.
Executive Director of Campaign for Prison Reform, Lakey Love stated, “Florida Department of Corrections continued to claim through two public hearings and critical testimony from family members of the incarcerated, formerly incarcerated individuals, lawyers at the ACLU and SPLC, and retired FDC officers that visitation cutbacks were necessary due to funding/staffing constraints and to reduce contraband even though only 2.5% of contraband in the Florida prison system comes from visitors and the use of staff for visitation purposes reduces the necessity for increased staff to handle riots and the build up of gangs in the detention centers. Florida has the third highest incarceration rate in the country. We don’t need to be cutting visitation and rehabilitation programs, we need to be cutting incarceration numbers. There is absolutely no good reason for visitation cuts in the Florida prison system. If the Florida Department of Corrections decides to bring back this rule Campaign for Prison Reform, Florida’s lead organizing coalition of directly impacted community members will continue to fight collectively to stop visitation cuts and we will win every time.”
Executive Director of Florida Cares Denise Rock stated, “Florida Cares would like to thank the Joint Administrative Procedures Committee and our Florida legislators for an administrative process wherein the public can participate and the voices of the incarcerated can be heard. This process has joined together countless families and people affected by Florida’s prison system to advocate for the most effective way to reduce recidivism – in person visitation. Florida Cares welcomes the opportunity to assist FDC in building upon the 2nd most effective tool in reducing recidivism – programs.”
Organizing to protect visitation for all Florida’s incarcerated families and loved ones comes at a cost. Many in the organizing cohort have had their loved ones inside moved halfway across the state forcing the friends and family to travel sometimes 20 and 25 hours a week roundtrip for a short visitation. Campaign for Prison Reform is working on uncovering evidence and providing proof that Florida Department of Corrections is using visitation cuts as punishment for organizing against abuse, neglect and systemic oppression.
Forgotten Majority’s outspoken advocate, Judy Thompson stated, “Defeating the policy that would cut back on in-person visits is a huge victory over the war against apathy toward those who are incarcerated. It was the result of strong unification of those who see offenders as human beings in need of a loving touch and an intimate moment. And with almost 100,000 inmates in the state of Florida, that same unification is powerful enough to change the plethora of FDOC’s egregious policies. Forgotten Majority is honored to be part of these historical efforts.”
Kyle Williford, formerly incarcerated and Director of Incarcerated Outreach and Programs for the Campaign for Prison Reform stated, “The opinions and needs of directly impacted men and women have consistently been neglected by the same bureaucrats who exploit us, both in and out of society. This victory gives us hope that through effective communication, our communities may work in conjunction with these former overlords to create a more effective and humane system.”
Kyle’s words echo the words of 2018 Soros Fellow award winner and Executive Director of the Florida Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls Jhody Polk who stated, “ This victory is more than a win against the Florida Department of Corrections, it is a testament to the truth that prisoners are people and they are our people! They are our mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters! They are our children and grandchildren. They matter and the are important. This victory is a reflection of the strength of the “people” who are incarcerated and the power of the people who love them.”
Finally, on as the Executive Director of Inmate Wives for Christ and the Director of Family and Community Relations for Campaign for Prison Reform Jewie Tyron states, “I want to extend our gratitude to all those who went above and beyond to help in this victory! Your prayers and your efforts did not go unnoticed or unanswered! Thank you and God bless each and every one.”
To find out how you can get more involved with the Campaign for Prison Reform or donate money to support our organizing efforts email email@example.com.