ACLU Commends Florida Governor for Investigation into Suicides of Female Prisoners

January 13, 1999 12:00 am

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Wednesday, January 13, 1999

TALLAHASSEE, FL — The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida today commended Governor Jeb Bush for ordering that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and newly appointed Inspector General Marcia Cooke jointly investigate two recent suicides of female prisoners.

The ACLU had asked former Gov. Lawton Chiles to initiate an independent investigation of the suicides of Florence Krell and Christine Elmore, which occurred at Jefferson Correctional Institution within a period of two months. Gov. Chiles directed his then-Inspector General to make a recommendation on the ACLU’s request for an investigation. Gov. Chiles’ directive was not acted by the Inspector General following Gov. Chiles’ untimely death.

“We are pleased that Gov. Bush recognizes that the prison system should not be allowed to investigate itself,” said Howard Simon, Executive Director of the ACLU of Florida. “This is especially true when there is sufficient evidence that the suicides were preventable and that brutal treatment meted out to women prisoners was unnecessary.

“However, based on the information we are receiving,” Simon added, “we believe that a wider investigation of the general conditions of confinement for female prisoners in all Florida correctional institutions may be warranted.”

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