The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating a disturbing incident of abuse involving a corrections officer and an inmate at Lowell Correctional Institution in Marion County, the largest prison for women in the U.S.
The Florida Department of Corrections acknowledges that an incident at the facility took place this week, but otherwise is providing no details at all about what actually happened.
Quoting anonymous sources, the Miami Herald is reporting that the incident involved a 51-year-old woman who was “gravely injured” after getting involved with a confrontation with corrections officers. The story was first reported by the Ocala Star Banner.
The Herald reports that the woman “was slammed to the ground, then dragged to a wheelchair, with her head bouncing along the ground, before ending up hospitalized.”
The Department of Corrections says that involved inmate is “receiving appropriate care and treatment,” adding in a statement that “full details of this incident are unclear at this time.”
“We recognize that preliminary reports from this incident are concerning,” Department of Corrections Secretary Mark Inch said in a written statement. “We’ve committed to examining all the details regarding this situation and ensuring appropriate action is taken.”
Unlike most incidents of alleged abuse in Florida’s prisons, the investigation is being outsourced to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, with the Department of Corrections Office of Inspector General offering assistance.
The officers who were allegedly involved are still working at Lowell Correctional, but have been reassigned to posts that do not have contact with inmates.
The abuse at Lowell Correctional comes a year after members of the Department of Justice’s civil rights division began an investigation into alleged abuse at the facility, located just north of Ocala.
The incident follows several other reported accounts of abuse against inmates in Inch’s first year on the job. He recently told the Florida Phoenix that “our violence rates are simply unacceptable,” referring not only to abuse by corrections officers against inmates, but also inmate-on-inmate attacks and violence by inmates against corrections officers.