PRESS AVAILABILITY: Several representatives of the groups calling for the intervention of the federal government and the sister of Inmate Harold Hempstead will be available for comment at 11 a.m. on Friday, October 16th at the offices of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - October 15, 2015
CONTACT: ACLU of Florida Media Office,, (786) 363-2737

MIAMI, FL – Today, a coalition of fourteen human rights and faith-based advocacy groups called on the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division to investigate the horrible brutal prison conditions in the state of Florida.

Florida’s state prison population is currently the third largest in the United States, with a higher incarceration rate than any country in Central or South America. As of December, 2014, Florida incarcerated 100,873 people in its 56 state prisons and supervises 142,159 offenders on community supervision.

In the letter to the Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Vanita Gupta, the coalition urges the Civil Rights Division’s Special Litigation Section to open a general investigation into whether conditions of confinement in Florida’s prisons violate the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA).

According to the coalition, given the Florida Department of Correction’s pattern and practice of consistently failing to remedy these pervasive and egregious problems, only the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) can properly address these violations. From the letter:

“In 2014, there were 346 deaths in Florida’s prisons, 13 percent more than the year before. Of these, 176 were not immediately explainable. As of October 14, 2015, 252 prisoners have died during the current calendar year. It has been reported that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) has almost 200 state prison deaths under investigation. Many of the FDOC and FDLE investigations into instances of death and/or abuse of prisoners are languishing. {In several cases,} the investigations have been ongoing for more than three years without any conclusion in sight.”

The letter is signed by: ACLU of Florida, Stop Prison Abuse Now, Amnesty International Miami Chapter, National Alliance on Mental Illness, Florida Institutional Legal Services, Florida Justice Institute, Florida Council of Churches, Florida Conference of NAACP Branches, South Florida Interfaith Worker Justice, Temple Israel of Greater Miami, The Key Clubhouse of South Florida, ADA Expertise Consulting, LLC, Southern Poverty Law Center Florida Office, Human Rights Defense Center.

A copy of the letter is available here: