Prison

Broward County commissioners have approved a new program that aims to keep adults accused of non-violent misdemeanor crimes out of jail by giving them civil citations and coursework instead.

A new report paid for and released by the Florida Senate finds that while the state is sending fewer people to prison than in the past, those who end up behind bars are staying there for a longer time.

The study from the Crime and Justice Institute based in Boston says there are nearly 100,000 inmates housed in Florida prisons, and the per capita incarceration rate in the state is more than 20 percent higher than the national average.

The family of Darren Rainey, the 50-year-old schizophrenic inmate whose barbaric shower death led to sweeping reforms in the Florida prison system, has settled a civil rights lawsuit against the state of Florida and others for $4.5 million, the Miami Herald has learned.

The deal comes nearly six years after Rainey’s death, which was all but ignored by authorities until 2014 — when the Miami Herald wrote about it as part of a three-year investigation into the abuse and suspicious deaths of inmates in the Florida Department of Corrections.

Should inmates be criminally charged when cell phones are found on their person? In Florida prisons, that can occur. But, in county jails, not so much. During a recent legislative debate, lawmakers discussed a bill making it illegal for local jail inmates to have cell phones within the facilities.

Fighting contraband has been an ongoing issue within the state’s prison system. Florida’s prison chief is exploring some innovative ideas to address that issue.

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