by John Donnelly…….
It’s difficult for me to understand the mindset and thought process of an individual, when as a member of law-enforcement or the Armed Forces they abuse, injure or kill an unarmed prisoner under their control.
The United States Marines that I served with were hardened and resourceful; pledging their last measure of devotion to one another and the innocent Vietnamese civilians dependent upon them for their very lives. We were determined to optimize our chances of survival and mission success, while cognizant of the risks and deleterious consequences effecting the ‘composite charge’, under which we operated.
In our blood, tissue and fecal ridden jungle fatigues; upon the completion of an assault we rounded up any combatant who had withstood the violence directed at them. The last thing on our minds was to brutalize those enemy soldiers that remained alive. We wanted information from them, which would increase our chances of remaining in one piece, as we ascertained our next move, hoping to increase the odds of securing the next objective.
We had Marine and former Viet Cong scouts within our ranks that assembled a plethora of ‘invaluable information’ from these prisoners, before they were flown back to the rear.
It’s disgusting and a complete embarrassment for me to open my article with just one, of many, prison abuse photographs taken at the American operated Abu Gharib Prison in Iraqi. However, that picture doesn’t come near to equating with the atrocities that have been occurring with regularity, right here in the State of Florida.
Julie Brown’s magnificent articles recently published in ‘The Miami Herald’, exposes with intent and diligence the brutality, corruption and cover-ups that have taken hold of many areas within the Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC). She has shed light upon the dangers and deadly obstacles an individual may face, if they attempt to cleanse and sanitize the filth that has taken hold, and manifested itself, via alleged acts of deadly violence committed by some corrections officers, upon unarmed inmates charged to their care.
Ms. Brown’s detailed account is breathtaking, rekindling the many hours and years of extraordinary work and effectiveness required by our civilian team, before we were able to rescue and safely secure the release of an innocent man that the FDOC was determined to murder.
Words are insufficient in describing the gratitude and respect that I have for Ms. Brown’s courageous and magnanimous actions.
In my view, the malfeasance, killings and injuries at the FDOC will continue, as it appears to be rooted in a trickle down endorsement, which rewards conformity, as it punishes those corrections officers who are legally engaged in the performance of their duties. Based on several accounts that I’ve reviewed, it appears that some of the alleged brutality and excessive force unleashed upon the inmates in question, may have been sanctioned by staff supervisors.
In a ‘culture of depravity and violence’, official acts of misconduct can be hidden and obscured rather easily. There is a code of silence and corrupted symbolism, which makes any investigation of alleged criminal behavior difficult. Misguided loyalty and a criminalized ‘esprit de corps’, can provide cover and protection for an employee who may have broken the law.
Reading through the data provided me via investigations, sworn statements, depositions and other evidence, it appears at times that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, along with the Office of the Inspector General; may have conducted criminal examinations of alleged law-enforcement malfeasance in a scant and perfunctory manner; and in at least one instance, to all appearances, fraud was detected throughout the prepared documents.
As a matter of record, the persistent revelations chronicled in a plethora of investigations and reports, confirm to me, that taxpayer money allocated to those agencies charged with the humane care of individuals incarcerated, is not being appropriated responsibly. The ‘constitutional safeguards’ guaranteed to an inmate population, so they might be protected from cruel and unusual punishment, has in too many instances been violated. Those prosecuted and found guilty of committing crimes against this vulnerable and defenseless segment of our society, have been few and far between.
Guidance, direction and leadership necessary for the FDOC to legitimately function, within the confines of a legal and humanely sensitive civilization, has been sorely lacking.
Former Secretary of Corrections Edwin Buss was an extraordinarily principled, brilliant and effective leader. Governor Rick Scott must find a way for him, or a leader of his caliber, to garner the reigns of this galloping and barbarous beast.
Julie Brown’s courage, along with her daunting and heroic reporting, has saved lives. The power of Ms. Brown’s pen has prevented some of our citizens from being tortured, beaten and murdered. She has rescued many others from a horrible fate that may have awaited them.
‘The Fourth Estate’ resting in the hands of editors and investigative journalists with integrity and honor, such as Naja and Arnaud Girard, and the esteemed Julie Brown; is an instrument and force that will raise the consciousness of the world, so that torturing and murdering those within the prison industrial complex, whether they be guilty or innocent, will no longer be acceptable.