Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Guards in Florida prisons shock kids

April 24, 2009 was "Take your daughter/son to workday", across the nation.

Ten Florida prison employees have been suspended and one fired, while investigations of guards using stun guns on as little as six children who were visiting, continue.

A news article from the St. Petersburg Times reported early Wednesday May 6, that up to six children are victims of a real life "show and tell" game. Three separate prisons have revealed that guards zapped the victims, ages ranging between 8 and 14, with "electronic immobilization devices," a.k.a the stun gun, which produces a 50,000 volt shock.

When George Sapp, deputy secretary of institutions for the Department of Correction, heard rumors that the Franklin Correctional Institution in the Panhandle ordeal was not an isolated one, he began calling wardens and discovered that Indian River Correctional Institution in Vero Beach and Martin Correctional Institution in Indiantown had similar events take place.

However, Gretl Plessinger, a corrections spokeswoman, said that the three situations were "separate and unrelated," suggesting that no coordination or planning was to have taken place.

Matthew Foster, attorney for one victim said that his client "sustained abrasions and trauma when the powerful jolt knocked her to the ground, requiring a doctor's treatment."

The Department of Corrections is leading the investigation with House Council on Criminal and Civil Justice Policy keeping a watchful eye.

"If we think the department is not thorough and is taking care of its own, we'll step in," said State Rep. Julio Robaina, R-Miami, chairman of the House Council.

The ten suspended employees are currently on administrative leave with pay, and will be notified by mail if and when they can return to work.

Since high school I have been an avid listener of the radio show Loveline featuring Dr. Drew and various hosts (including Adam Corrolla and Striker). To liven up the show, they played a game called "Germany or Florida" in which you had to guess where a crazy story originated.

Florida seems to be taking the cake in the news this week, producing one horrific story after another.

Personally, I am not surprised that this situation happened, and really that it was only a matter of time. I would not be surprised to find that more prisons around the country have experienced situations like this many times.

What I would like to know is how the situation came about? Did one or two kids mention it, and sweet talked the officers into a live demonstration? Was it an idea floated between the officers?

Next, I would like to know how the story leaked? It makes you wonder if the children were bragging to their friends, and a teacher found out; or if a prison employee reported it to their superior; or if the child told the opposite parent who responded accordingly.

Then I would like to discuss the fact that tazing children unnecessarily should involve a punishment much more harsh than losing a job or suspension with pay.

Personally, I feel like this falls under the category of "cruel and unusual" or even torture, no matter the context of how the situation came about.

This just proves, that not every fertile person should be reproducing.

photo credits: photo of Drew Pinsky provided by shell belle (Flickr); photo of stun gun provided by yoheiyamashita

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