HEADLINE: Sex offender inmates allege cruel, unusual punishment at state prison
The Florida Department of Children and Families faces a flurry of habeas corpus lawsuits by violent sex offenders detained under the Jimmy Ryce Act alleging they have been mistreated at the privately run South Bay Correctional Facility in western Palm Beach County.
Inmates at the prison, which is operated by Palm Beach Gardens-based Wackenhut Corrections Corp., allege that the state has failed to institute administrative rules for the facility, leaving Wackenhut personnel free to administer "cruel and unusual punishment, without due process of law."
The claims arose in 10 separate petitions for writs of habeas corpus filed by the inmates in Palm Beach Circuit Court on May 30.
The prisoners' allegations center on two incidents at the facility in January. In the first, the prisoners claim in their petitions that Wackenhut guards, led by a shift captain, assaulted a group of three prisoners who refused to be relocated within the facility without a due process hearing. In the second, the prisoners allege that prison officials subjected a wing of almost 40 inmates to a full day of solitary confinement in retaliation for a fight between two prisoners that the inmates themselves quelled.
The petitions are the latest sign of problems in the state's implementation of the 1998 Jimmy Ryce Act. That law allows for the civil commitment of violent sex offenders to locked treatment facilities after they've served out their prison sentences. But the law fails to spell out rules for confinement of offenders between their release from prison and their commitment hearings. As a result, 130 Jimmy Ryce detainees at the South Bay Correctional Facility -- who haven't yet been formally committed -- are sitting behind bars in penal limbo.
In addition, 17 other South Bay inmates have asked to have similar claims attached to a habeas corpus case currently under way before Palm Beach Circuit Judge Peter Blanc. That case, Jerry A. Charles v. Kathleen Kearney, filed in March 2000, involves Charles, a Ryce Act detainee who was placed in solitary confinement at South Bay. Kearney is secretary of the Florida Department of Children and Families, which has administrative responsibility for the Sexually Violent Predator Program established by the Ryce Act.
Once again you pick some real winners to post. These inmates refused to be placed in pre hearing detention. I quess you would prefer the gaurds to say please move. I quess you are a inmate advocate know. That beats a Union waterboy.
I think everyone should give McPrison a break, he posts news on WHC both good and bad, doesn't editoralize, doesn't bash ----- he let's you make up your own mind. I for one am glad to see the reports, it lets me factor in what is going on in the private sector regarding WHC vs. public prisons. Keep up the good work Mc.