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FDOC ‘disagrees’ with federal probe that found pattern of sexual abuse at Lowell prison


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Secretary Mark Inch addressed the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice on Jan. 13. Image: The Florida Channel

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The Florida Department of Corrections disagrees with a Justice Department investigation that found a longstanding pattern of sexual abuse by staff at Lowell prison near Ocala.

The letter from FDOC’s lawyer echoes statements by Secretary Mark Inch to a Senate committee.

The DOJ report in December found systemic problems at the women’s prison amounting to cruel and unusual punishment.

Attorney Andy Bardos wrote that FDOC takes seriously its responsibility to protect inmates, that Lowell aced a sex-abuse prevention audit and that it removes and disciplines wrongdoers.

He asked the feds to share the possibly confidential sources behind findings that officers commonly grope prisoners, bribe them for sex, force relationships and threaten solitary confinement if they report the abuse.

Inch said last month that investigators took a  “finite number” of cases at a large prison over a long time “and overgeneralized them to conclude that we have systemic sexual abuse. I disagree.”

The DOJ report ends with steps the prison should take and the threat of a lawsuit if it doesn’t.


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Joe Byrnes

About Joe Byrnes

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Joe Byrnes came to WMFE/WMFV from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.

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