Florida Department of Corrections Under Fire

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Inmates make license plates, grow vegetables, and even repair prison vehicles, but it is against the law for them to repair private vehicles.

After serving six search warrants in six counties, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement has seized three cars and several homemade trailers. The searches were based on information from a former inmate.

FDLE is asking reporters not to reveal the inmate's identity, but he has told investigators that officers forced him to manufacture the trailers or repair their private vehicles. The investigation reaches into the highest levels of the department.

The six individuals served with search warrants include a regional supervisor, a deputy warden, a colonel, a lieutenant, and two corrections officers.

A corrections spokesman refused comment. Attempts to interview Corrections Secretary Jim Crosby going to or coming from lunch were unsuccessful. Legislators are monitoring the investigation.

Sen. Al Lawson (D) Tallahassee, says, “We really don't need to change leadership in corrections this late in the governor's term. We need to make sure they can salvage the department."

Department leaders also maintain the governor's support.

Lt. Gov. Toni Jennings, (R) Florida, says, “It appears inmates have been doing work on personal vehicles, which is totally unacceptable. If that happened, then obviously steps need to be taken to make sure it never happens again.”

Statewide, the Department of Corrections employs 28,000 officers.