Farmer Jaffe attorney Brittany Henderson and founding partner Gary Farmer co-authored a comprehensive article on the prevalent brutality in Florida’s prison system and lack of protection for whistleblowers. The article was recently published in the Nova Law Review.
In the piece, the attorneys examine the institutional flaws in the state’s prison system that allow for heinous crimes to be committed by prison officials against inmates without any safeguards for whistleblowers to bring such offenses to light. According to an online database created by the Florida Department of Corrections, 3,400 inmates have died in the state’s prisons over the past 14 years. About 100 cases remain under investigation.
While most of the inmate deaths are deemed “accidental” or “natural,” the article notes these classifications are frequently erroneous. One example is the death of Randall Jordan-Aparo. In the online database, Jordan-Aparo’s death was ruled an accident until it was found that he was likely “gassed to death” by multiple prison guards. Prison nurses refused to send Jordan-Aparo to the hospital for life-saving treatment attempts.
Jordan-Aparo’s tragic death also underscores the issue of whistleblower retaliation in the state’s prison system. As part of a broader investigation into prison corruption, Florida Department of Corrections inspector Aubrey Land found that Jordan-Aparo was gassed in his cell after threatening to report guards for denying his pleas for medical treatment. Land and his colleagues were denied whistleblower status and faced retaliation from the department for revealing the details of Jordan-Aparo’s death.
The state is taking steps to address the inmate brutality problem, including an expanded Crisis Intervention Training program for correctional officers and complete investigative authority for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to get to the bottom of 82 unnatural deaths that were previously in the hands of the state’s Department of Corrections. Until complete whistleblower protection is provided to eyewitnesses, however, the state will continue to foster a culture of inmate abuse and constitutional rights violations.
Farmer Jaffe’s Brittany Henderson concentrates her practice in civil litigation with an emphasis on personal injury, sexual abuse and class action law. During law school at Nova Southeastern University, Brittany developed a passion for civil justice within the Florida prison system. She can be reached at [email protected] or at (954) 524-2820.
Gary Farmer is a founding partner of Farmer Jaffe who has spent almost his entire career fighting for the rights of consumers, fair and just compensation for victims and the protection of the civil justice system. He can be reached at [email protected]or at (954) 524-2820.