Florida Department of Corrections officials are still insisting that video recording inmates working in public is illegal, although they have yet to come up with a single statute that confirms this.
The latest incident took place in Lake City on Thursday where a corrections officer who was overseeing a group of inmates working on the side of the road walked across several lanes of traffic to confront PINAC correspondent Jeff Gray, who was video recording the work crew from a public sidewalk at a busy intersection.
The corrections officer, H.W. Lee, became more concerned with Gray and his camera than with the inmates he was supposedly keeping from escaping, keeping his back towards them for more than six minutes.
However, he was concerned enough about their privacy where he insisted the inmates needed to sign a release form in order to be photographed, never mind the fact that he didn’t seem to have an issue exploiting them for free labor.
First, Lee said it was a FDOC policy that prevented citizens from recording inmates in public as if an agency policy would have any effect on general citizens in public. Then he insisted there was some type of law.
Gray: You said it was policy. Is there an actual law or statute that prohibits me from ….
Lee: Yes, sir. I can’t tell you where it’s at. I know it’s in policy and procedures. And if an incident goes on, we got a person in Tallahassee. That’s all they do, is meet with the press and everything else. They’re ain’t no cameras at all.
FDOC maintains a website where they have a database to search for inmates by name that also includes the inmates’ photos, which begs the question …. did the inmates sign a photo release before these photos were published?
UPDATE: Gray sent an email to Warden Monroe Barnes about the incident, who responded with the following:
Thank you for brining this to our attention, this will give us a opportunity to update and train our employees when dealing with this type encounter when working in the public.