A Miami lawmaker says basic necessities such as toilet paper and soap are being withheld from inmates in some prisons in Florida.
On a weekend visit to Tomoka Correctional Institution near Daytona Beach, Miami Beach Rep. David Richardson found inmates without toilet paper, soap and pillows. One cell block had roaches and rats. He said he found one inmate with a wound that had gone untreated for days and another who was vomiting in his cell.
During a January visit to Baker Correctional Institution in north Florida, Richardson said, he found inmates without toilet paper and toothbrushes.
He asked the prison warden to open the storage unit, just feet away from the inmate dorms, and deliver hygiene products with him to more than 50 inmates.
"It is behavior that is intended to dehumanize them, treating them like an animal," Richardson told the Miami Herald.
The Baker Correctional warden was "embarrassed," said Richardson, and after the lawmaker complained to the Florida Department of Corrections, agency officials "were apologetic and put out an all-points bulletin that this was wrong."
But the problem has continued, Richardson said, as evidenced by his visit to Tomoka Correctional last weekend. When toilet paper runs out, inmates use dampened notebook paper, newspaper or ripped bedsheets, Richardson said.
"This was the worst situation I have witnessed since that infamous Friday night at Baker many months ago," Richardson wrote about the Tomoka Correctional visit in an email to a corrections official. "Apparently, your staff still do not understand it is inhumane to deny inmates with basic personal hygiene products, especially toilet paper."
A Florida Department of Correction spokeswoman told the newspaper the agency doesn't withhold hygiene products.
"The department does not withhold hygiene products from inmates and works continually to ensure all health, safety and hygiene standards are being met within our 149 facilities," said spokeswoman Michelle Glady in an email.