SARASOTA — The Florida Department of Corrections pledged on Monday to “thoroughly review” allegations of systemic corruption and sexual abuse at Lowell Correctional Institution, the nation’s largest women’s prison.
Attorney General Pam Bondi, meanwhile, said she has no standing to pursue any sort of an investigation because the series focused on one prison in a single county.
The allegations, involving coerced sex and the bartering of sex for illegal drugs and other contraband brought into the prison by corrections officers, were detailed in a Miami Herald I-team series, Beyond Punishment. The first installment was published Sunday, with additional parts planned Wednesday and this coming weekend.
The story quoted multiple inmates who said they were forced to engage in sex acts with corrections officers — and that if they complaint they were locked away confinement — a more restrictive form of incarceration — until they recanted.
A statement attributed to Secretary Julie Jones said: “As the nation’s third largest correctional system, responsible for the country’s largest women’s prison, I feel that it is our responsibility to be a national leader in implementing policy focused on the incarceration and rehabilitation of women. Since joining the department in January, I have strived to work collaboratively with our community partners, including those who represent our state’s news organizations, to build a more accountable and progressive Department of Corrections.”