After the Florida Department of Corrections (FDC) failed to adequately respond to public records requests by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the SPLC sued the department for the documents outlining the prison system’s policies for addressing the COVID-19 pandemic in its facilities. The lawsuit was filed almost two months after the records requests were submitted in March 2020.
Crowded prisons are at great danger for the coronavirus. At the time the lawsuit was filed, hundreds of incarcerated people in Florida’s prisons had tested positive for COVID-19 and thousands more had been exposed. The FDC’s prisons incarcerated about 96,000 people, including a substantial number of elderly people or those with compromised health – populations at heightened risk from the virus.
The FDC’s lack of transparency prevents the public from fully understanding the conditions inside Florida prisons during the pandemic, hindering efforts to advocate for improvements, the SPLC noted.