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Prison Litigator
Prison Litigator

PRESS RELEASE

November 14, 2007

FLORIDA STATE PRISON

In an email sent to prison reform organization Iron Triangle Accountability Project, Inc. today, Florida Department of Corrections Public Information Officer Jo Ellyn Rackleff confirmed that four inmates commenced a hunger strike last week protesting the conditions of confinement under which they are being held at Florida State Prison.

Participating inmates Dwight Eaglin, Stephen Smith, Shawn Johnson and Allan Scott are being housed on Q-Wing where they are denied virtually all privileges afforded other inmates.

Eaglin and Smith are sentenced to death by lethal injection stemming from their failed escape attempt from Charlotte Correctional Institution on June 11, 2003 in which Correction Officer Darla Lathrem and fellow inmate Charles Fuston were murdered. Johnson is serving a life sentence for a 1994 murder in Miami. Scott is serving two life sentences, one from a 1989 armed robbery in Brevard County, the second for attempted murder at Okeechobee Correctional Institution in 2000 involving an incident during which he fought with staff.

Both Eaglin and Smith have been classified as Maximum Management inmates under the DOC’s Administrative Code. In relevant part, hunger strike organizer Eaglin notes, Maximum Management is defined as “a temporary status for an inmate who through a recent incident or series of incidents, has been identified as being an extreme security risk and requires an immediate level of control beyond that available in close management or death row.”

It is the terms “temporary status” and “recent incident or incidents” with which Eaglin and the others take issue. Petitioning for regular outdoor exercise, non-contact visits and the very few other “privileges” afforded regular death row inmates, on many occasions Eaglin has reminded prison officials that it has been over four years since he’s been accused of violating prison rules. “Temporary means temporary,” he says; “there are no recent incidents of misbehavior in my record to justify my continued Max Management confinement.”

In letters to friends and prison reform activists Eaglin makes clear that he accepts his death penalty punishment in accordance with law, and that his grievance is grounded on the DOC not following the law, “its own rules and regulations,” he observes. “I’m held accountable under our laws, they should be too. They’re depriving me of what the law entitles me to because I’m convicted of murdering one of theirs; it’s a form of illegal punishment because they dropped the ball,” he claims, referring to the DOC’s own investigation into the incident resulting in a report authored by DOC Investigator General Daryl J. McCasland dated January 15, 2004 concluding that no less than six different DOC security measures were violated by DOC personnel the night of the incident.

The former Warden of Florida State Prison, Ron Mc Andrew, once opined: ‘people go to prison as punishment, not to be punished. That’s how the law reads and anyone who steps beyond that point is a lawbreaker too.”

In addressing Eaglin’s complaints, by letter dated June 4, 2007 DOC Secretary James McDonough wrote: “My legal staff advises me that there are no statutory or rule definitions for the terms ‘temporary’ or ‘recent’ [and] I am unaware of any plans to clarify those terms by rule modification, regulation, policy or procedure.”

Eaglin makes a good point: if Florida inmates are to be held accountable under law for their actions, then so too should be the law enforcement officials to whose supervision and control they have been committed by law.

 
donnie72
donnie72

To the warden,
Sir, Dwight Thomas Eaglin, is a man who has little value for life because the life he know is filled with Pain, Suffering and hate. He hates inequality he demands repect but more than anything he is a man of his word. And his views are squewd. He often takes responsibility for things he does not do because he thinks he is tougher than the next guy. He clearly stated that he doesn't want hurt anyone he just wants to go for the rest of his time without being beaten, hurt, or stolen from. Leave my brother Alone

Quote from his Brother
Kenneth Eaglin, Dwights brother

In the criminal justice system?/ Injustice system
you see a young man full of hope and promise go away for something that doesn't neccessarly fit the crime. and you watch a hardened criminal walk out or in Mr Eaglins case come out in a body bag. Throughout history even in the bible it says though shall not kill. Admittedly Mr. Eaglin killed, but for those who sentenced him to death. are no less murders than he is. Darwinism speeks of survival of the fitest are those it The man who does the leathal injecton more fit than Mr Eaglin I doubt it. I discussed the situation with a lawer in a conversation once and he started in on the law and to be part of society you must adhere to the law.My question is did anyone ever ask Mr Eaglin if he wanted to be part of this society. Just like paying Social Security I never was asked if i wanted to donate but for twenty years I have paid now i am told it might not be there when it my turn. well I can promise you if i would have known the facts I would have declined the invite. I truely feel for officer lathrems family. but I place more blame on the florida State department of corrections than all parties involved. Mr Eaglin is considered to one of the highest IQ's in america yet he is chemically unbalenced. Steven Hawken In prison I doubt it would ever happen people perfer to seek out his knowledge Mr. Eaglin is so smart that his own mind is driving him crazy. His head is about to explode with thought without action. Let he alone

 
Prison Litigator
Prison Litigator

From the little i have read, Mr Eaglin has been 4 years incident free. So why would he still be a threat if his extra security was/is classified as temporary 4 years ago? Just shows the injustice of the system and how things are left up to the perception and interpretation of others.
So what is the Wardens definition of temporary then? It is sad when one has to take such measures as a hunger strike to be heard.
Yes incarcerate and isolate protecting others from the dangers of this man/men, but to then further the punishment that the Courts seem deemed fit the crime, then for them to impose THEIR OWN further punishment should be against the law. :(
Hope that makes sense?

Eaglin's and Smith's seemingly permanent Max Managament status is intended to serve one purpose only: punishment for having been involved in the incident in which an officer was murdered. But, had Officer Lathrem been murdered through no fault of the DOC, this would not be happening. It is happening, however, because the DOC was clearly liable for her death; by vitiating virtually all applicable security measures that night -- a fact set forth by the I.G.'s office -- the DOC literally marched her to her grave. And for that the DOC has been subject to intense public criticism and a wrongful death action too.

And here's the kicker: if Eaglin's security classification was downgraded from Max Management to Close Management, he would stay in the same 9 x 7 cell he's been in for years. The ONLY differences would be that he would then be permitted regular outdoor exercise (in a cage), non-contact visits, canteen privileges, and permission to listen to a radio in his cell.

In this case it is clear that the terms "temporary" and "recent" are left to subjective definition by the warden. And that Secretary McDonough refuses to amend departmental policy to reflect more finite definitions speaks volumes to the Florida DOC mentality: "screw you all, we do what we want to do and don;t give a damn about the law."

 
smiley
smiley

From the little i have read, Mr Eaglin has been 4 years incident free. So why would he still be a threat if his extra security was/is classified as temporary 4 years ago? Just shows the injustice of the system and how things are left up to the perception and interpretation of others.
So what is the Wardens definition of temporary then? It is sad when one has to take such measures as a hunger strike to be heard.
Yes incarcerate and isolate protecting others from the dangers of this man/men, but to then further the punishment that the Courts seem deemed fit the crime, then for them to impose THEIR OWN further punishment should be against the law. :(
Hope that makes sense?