Correction officer arrest in beating of an inmate at Central Florida prison

Florida state Reps. Anna Eskamani, Carlos Guillermo Smith and Dianne Hart (via screenshot from Facebook)

A state correctional officer has been arrested for his role in the beating of an inmate at the prison system’s Central Florida Reception Center in Orlando, the Florida Department of Corrections announced.

Jestyn R. Allen was arrested Tuesday and charged with “malicious battery causing great harm and perjury by false declaration” for his involvement in the July 18 incident that involved inmate Carlton Hart, the former brother-in-law of state Rep. Dianne Hart, a Tampa Democrat.

“I am very glad to hear that we are moving towards justice for Carlton Hart and I thank the Inspector General’s office for their work. We hope to see justice served and the message sent that all inmates under our care must be treated with respect and dignity,”  Rep. Hart said in a statement.

“Unfortunately, these are not isolated or rare events within Florida’s prison system. Good staff is under-supported, and bad staff is out of control,” said Hart, who is one of the leaders of criminal justice reform effort in the Legislature.

The investigation was carried out by the DOC’s Office of Inspector General with support from State Attorney Aramis Ayala of the 9th Judicial Circuit of Florida and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.

In a statement, Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Mark Inch said his agency “does not tolerate mistreatment of inmates under any circumstances.”

“The results of this investigation serve as a testament to our commitment to accountability and the processes in place to identify, investigate, and arrest those who violate the law and our standards of professional conduct,” Inch said. “The unacceptable actions of this individual are in no way a representation of the thousands of correctional officers who selflessly serve our state with respect and integrity daily.”

Allen was taken to the Orange County Jail and state prison officials say they have begun the process for his dismissal from the agency.

The Florida Phoenix has reported on efforts of state lawmakers to investigate a series of beatings in the prison system in this story.

The Phoenix also has written about ballooning overtime pay, low salaries for corrections officer and high turnover in Florida’s prison system, which has been described as being in a crisis.