The State of Florida is no stranger to police misconduct and brutality complaints.  Most Florida counties or cities have had reports of incidents where police officers acted out against members of society through the forms of police brutality most notably reported, including: 1) excessive force, 2) false arrest and wrongful imprisonment, 3) wrongful search and seizure, and 4) racial and gender discrimination or bias-based policing. Gulf County has had complaints of police misconduct in the past including tampering and withholding arrests and charging affidavits, for which they underwent Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation.

The Florida Department of Corrections has been the subject of  investigation for misconduct and Gulf County Sheriff Mike Harrison assisted in that investigation.  The State of Florida has to give a certain amount of discretionary authority to prison guards so that they can maintain the prison system, with the main objective of keeping the inmates safe.  The prison scandals in Florida showcase the problematic governing of the law enforcement officers working in the Florida Department of Corrections systems, and the surrounding communities and the treatment the prisoners receive is far from “efforts to keep them safe.”  Excessive force is not the only abuse of power in the Florida prison system.  Negligence with regard to medical care, and treatments is also an abuse of power. Gulf County Sheriff Mike Harrison said that in his two years with the Florida Department of Correction’s inspector general’s office, he was told not to pursue investigations on at least two occasions, one of which involved improper medical care causing near death experiences to two inmates.

Inmate abuse occurs when prison officials are negligent to the health needs of inmates, use unnecessary and excessive force to beat up or commit sexual assault upon the prisoner. Assaults can be of violent or sexual nature, violent assaults occur more often than sexual assaults, but both can leave lasting physical, psychological and emotional damage.  The two types of assaults on prisoners can be violent assault which is the more common, and sexual assault.

Correctional Officer Considerations When Applying Force Include.

1. The type and severity of the incident or crime at issue,
2. The person posing an immediate threat to the officer or others,
3. The person’s physical resistance to an arrest or other lawful detention,
4. The person fleeing from an arrest or other lawful detention,
5. Size, age, relative strength, skill-level, and physical condition of both parties.

6.Officer’s level of training and experience,
7. The number of persons and/or number of officers on the scene,
8. The duration of the incident, specifically in relation to the physical resistance offered,
9. The time available to an officer to decide to use response to resistance levels of control/force,
10. The person’s proximity or access to weapons,
11. Environmental factors and other exigent circumstances, and
12. The officer’s perceptions at the time the decision to use force was made.

Prisoners Must Speak Out Without Fear of Punishment from Prison Guards.

Downtrodden inmates often tolerate verbal and physical assaults because they think it is a fact of prison life.  Prisoners need to know that correctional officers are there to secure their safety, and if they become victimized at the hands of those correctional officers, they can bring a personal injury lawsuit to protect their rights and receive compensation for the damages they sustained resulting from unethical actions of corrections officers.  Federal laws addressing police misconduct include criminal and civil statutes to cover officers’ action in State, county and local jurisdictions including prisons and jails.  Title 6, Title 18, and the Americans with Disability Act are just a few of the federal laws that address the law supporting damages claimed by inmates at State Correctional Facilities.

The court will base the facts of the case on the specific situation and laws that support the claim of abuse of power and excessive force.  The causes of action that can be taken in this type of lawsuit against the State include: 1) assault, 2) deprivation of civil rights, 3) negligent ownership, maintenance, supervision and security at prison, and 4) negligent hiring and retention of incompetent personnel.

Under the Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, individuals who have suffered effects from police brutality or experienced police brutality can, however, file a civil lawsuit.  If you, or someone you know, who has been incarcerated is suffering at the hands of a corrections officer, immediately contact a Civil Rights & Personal Injury legal professional who might be able to help you manage your damages.  Damages may include hospital/medical expenses; past and future permanent disability payments; emotional distress including depression and anxiety; loss of enjoyment of life; physical pain and suffering; and loss of love and companionship due to a death or serious injury caused by police brutality or excessive use of force.



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