A week after a female inmate was brutally beaten by a corrections officer at Lowell Correctional Institution in Marion County, an activist group is demanding action against the employees responsible.
The inmate, now identified as Cheryl Weimar, 51, was reported to be “gravely injured” after an incident with corrections officers last week.
The Miami Herald reported that Weimar was “slammed to the ground, then dragged to a wheelchair, with her head bouncing along the ground, before ending up hospitalized.” The case is being investigated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Department of Corrections.
Dignity Florida, a group of formerly incarcerated women and allies founded in 2018 to address the issues of incarcerated women in Florida’s correctional facilities, have now penned a letter to Republican Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, Department of Corrections Secretary Mark Inch and Lowell Correctional Institution Warden Michel Quimby demanding an immediate investigation and public report involving the incident with Weimar, “including swift accountability measures taken against all those who were responsible for Ms. Weimar’s safety, health and care.”
The group is also calling for the state to fire all the correctional officers involved in the incident, and establish “policies and procedures to treat and protect incarcerated women who are pregnant, survivors of sexual abuse, and/or suffer mental disability.”
“Women and girls in the prison system are constantly being harmed and mistreated in general. Their dignity and humanity are constantly at risk, and Cheryl Weimar’s case tells us just how much worse it can be for black and brown incarcerated women,” said Valencia Gunder, criminal justice program manager for New Majority Florida, in a written statement on behalf of the Dignity Florida Coalition. “Correctional officers physically harming women while incarcerated is unacceptable. The Florida Department of Corrections is responsible for the life and health of the women in their custody and Dignity Florida will not stop until all incarcerated women and girls are safe, healthy and respected.”
In a video posted on Facebook earlier this week, Tampa Democratic state Rep. Dianne Hart spoke after visiting inmates at Lowell Correctional. She said in the video that Weimar’s neck “may very well be broken. I have not been able to get that verified by the FDLE, but I can tell you what the inmates told me.”
The Department of Corrections has said little about the incident since media reports surfaced last week, other than to say that the reports are “concerning” and a report will be publicly available once the investigation is complete.