Prison guards in Florida have seized weapons and cellphones as a statewide lockdown continues, according to reports.
Earlier this week, the Florida Department of Corrections (FDC) announced that all 148 prison facilities would be placed on lockdown. That includes the cells of all of Florida’s 97,000 state prison inmates, who will remain confined to their dorms until the weekend is over.
The lockdown was initiated due to a possible uprising among prisoners, FDC officials said on Thursday, reported the Orlando Sentinel.
Meanwhile, according to the Tampa Bay Times, every able bodied administrator, and officer in the state were ordered to report to the “state’s dangerously understaffed institutions.”
The Times reported that searchers of cells of nearly every prison cell were underway. Officers took weapons and other contraband like phones.
“It’s almost like we’re in hurricane mode. All days off have been canceled, it’s all hands on deck and they are going corner to corner of every prison to do shakedowns,” said John Rivera, who is the head of the state Police Benevolent Association, a union representing corrections officers, as reported by the newspaper.
Michelle Glady said that during the searches—known as “shakedowns”—that some inmates “are unhappy.” There have been a few overnight incidents, she said, describing them as “minor.”
The lockdown entails the cancellation of weekend visitation as well as annexes, work camps, and re-entry centers. No other “basic privileges” are affected, said a spokeswoman to the Sentinel.
Early in the week, the following statement was released by the FDC:
“The Florida Department of Corrections foremost responsibility is to ensure the safety of Florida communities, staff and inmates. In response to credible intelligence indicating that small groups of inmates at several institutions may attempt to disrupt FDC operations and impact safety and security, FDC has taken steps to enhance the security of its institutions across the state this weekend.”
“There are groups and gangs and different things in there and they get together worse than they do out here,” former prison guard Leroy Sanders explained to ABC Action News. “It’s quite a job. You have to be on your p’s and q’s. They’ve got all kinds of ways of getting things into the compound. You’d be surprised at the things they get in there.”
A five-time felon, who wished to remain unidentified and spent time at Sumter Correctional Institution, said that it’s quite easy to get weapons and phones inside facilities.
Corrections employees should be concerned “at all times,” he noted. “They’re gonna hurt an officer every chance they get,” added the felon.