Open Conversation on
Personal Hygiene in Florida Prisons
By Kay Lee
August 12, 2002
You must be receiving lots of mail about the toilet paper problem for you to actually respond. I've mailed you thousands of problems in the past few years and have never heard a word from you in the past. Or are possible ramifications of the 'Operation Wipe-Out' project are bothering you?
Well, something you said really bothers me. You stated in the letter below, "Prison wardens have always had the authority to dispense health and comfort items on an "as-needed" basis and that remains the case today."
Therein may lie the problem, Mr. Moore. Florida prisons have no uniformity. Not only does each prison seem to have its own rules, but each shift of guards makes up their own rules too. I don't mean to criticize, but you may be delegating too much authority to people who are not able to handle that authority in a proper manner, including people acting as guards.
Some of the Department of Corrections (DOC) personnel have intimated that all prisoners are liars. But, I can go back through all my old postings and letters and files and find hundreds of responses from the DOC - every single one of them suggesting that, whatever ex-employee, dead employee, family member, advocate or attorney is complaining against the DOC, they are all liars too. Do you realize that it sounds like the only people the DOC don't consider liars are the guards about whom we are complaining?
But then, you may honestly not know what goes on inside the institutions. If you'd like, I can try to get the families, ex-prisoners and ex-guards to contact you about how many of the basic necessities are being denied to Florida prisoners. Or we could have a summit at your place. All we'd ask that you bring is an open mind.
This may, once again, be improperly supervised 'officers' finding new punishments; or maybe they are taking this stuff home with them to share with their friends and covering up the shortages by denying the prisoners. But whatever is happening, the prisoners are doing without enough coats, underclothing, food, grooming items, and yes, toilet paper.
Why don't we here, in this election year, stand against crime under the color of law, crime being committed by people in positions of authority over others? When we talk about reform, lets talk about DOC budgets, inventory, theft by staff, shortages, and all the costs that we, the taxpaying public incurs from sloppy oversight. In fact, let's talk about rehabilitation. With over two million prisoners, you might find that a very popular issue.
A Very Disillusioned Citizen, Kay Lee, MTWT Pacific Institute of Criminal Justice 1868 San Juan Avenue Berkeley, CA 94707
PS: MR MOORE: WE DO NOT WANT THE TOILET PAPER COMING YOUR WAY GIVEN TO ANY 'CHARITIES OR SCHOOLS'. WE WANT IT GIVEN TO PRISONERS OF FLORIDA'S DOC!!!!!!!
-----Original Message----- From: Secretary Moore [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Monday, August 12, 2002 12:25 PM
To: 'email@example.com'; 'John Garner'
Subject: Response to concerns
Your mail to Governor Bush regarding inmate hygiene and specifically the availability of toilet tissue for inmates, has been referred to my office for response. The Department of Corrections has centralized much of its purchasing and distribution of health and comfort items to include toilet tissue. I think you will agree that it is incumbent upon all agencies in state government to conserve resources and control expenditures and in general manage its fiscal resources in a responsible and efficient manner.
I appreciate your concern when you state that DOC rules or policies ration "each two man cell to one roll of 1-ply toilet paper per week," however, no such rule or policy exists. Additionally, I am not able to find any institution that has published a local policy or memorandum to that effect. Prison wardens have always had the authority to dispense health and comfort items on an "as-needed" basis and that remains the case today.
I have contacted the Governor's office and asked that any donated toilet tissue or other health and comfort items that they receive be forwarded to our Department and we will make them available to local charities or schools in your name. I appreciate your interest but your concern in this instance seems misplaced.
"USE YOUR HANDS" AND "OPERATION WIPE-OUT"
DOC'S JUDY BELCHER:
From: Belcher, Judy [mailto: Belcher.Judy@mail.dc.state.fl.us]
Sent: Monday, August 12, 2002 7:12 AM
Subject: RE: Florida Prisoners Not Provided With Toilet Paper
Governor Bush asked me to thank you for your message and your interest in the Department of Corrections. There is no toilet paper shortage in Florida prisons and any rumors to the contrary are simply untrue.
I should also add that not only is there no shortage, but all inmates are provided ample hygiene items, including toilet paper.
Liaison for Governor's Correspondence
Florida Department of Corrections