For one weekend in August, the Florida Department of Corrections surprisingly canceled visits for inmates of all major prisons from friends and family members. They said that it was due to a planned march in Washington D.C. for inmates’ rights.
Authorities also said that some prisoners might have been prompted to create problems.
Why Did Florida DOC Cancel All Prison Visits Last August?
The Orlando Sentinel obtained records that show activist groups beyond the walls of the prison were sending inmates newsletters that encouraged nonviolent protests.
These newsletters also mentioned disturbances in four of Florida’s prisons on the 45th anniversary of the Attica Prison uprising in New York in September of 2016.
One newsletter said:
“Florida was one of the first and most active states in the September  strikes, but the repercussions felt by those inside remains a mystery to most on the outside.”
The goal, according to the newsletter was to end mass incarceration in the United States, and that those who were courageous enough to act should be known and supported. The newsletter then went on to tell inmates that they were not alone.
Florida Prison Authorities Cite Reasons for Statewide Visit Cancellations
Florida has 148 correctional facilities and holds about 98,000 inmates. When visits were canceled on the weekend of August 19, 2017, 55 prisons across the state were disciplined for infractions like:
- Contraband possessions
- Drug paraphernalia
- Weapons possessions
- Possession of unauthorized cell phones
- Possession of cash
It has also been reported that inmates were making threats and disobeying orders.
According to a spokeswoman for the department, officers did “extensive searches of inmates and inmate cells,” over the course of that weekend.
She said that it is the department’s duty to protect the staff, inmates and public from violence and that it will do what it needs to in order to uphold that duty.
The spokeswoman also said that there were “credible threats,” that caused the department to cancel visitation statewide over the weekend in August.