Known today as Florida State Prison (FSP), what was originally called Florida’s East Unit was constructed in 1961 and included another institution now known as Union Correctional Institution. Nearly 60 years old, FSP has been poorly maintained with cellblocks unfit for habitation. During Florida’s sweltering summer and autumn months, the cells, lacking air conditioning, become sweat boxes and infested with ants, spiders and huge cockroaches, with black mold growing on the ceilings.
On Aug. 24, guards here at Florida State Prison (FSP) donned special “formal” uniforms of black pants, dark grey shirts and black neckties. The special occasion? They were executing a man who was sentenced to die for a double homicide in 1987. Looking at each guard that day, I could only shake my head at their solemn pretensions and utter hypocrisy. There they were united in killing a man as punishment for a “crime” that they frequently collude in committing themselves.
On May 16, inmates at Old Folsom State Prison made contact with the outside world to announce that they will begin a hunger strike on May 25 in response to ongoing mistreatment, dehumanization and unbearable living conditions at Old Folsom. When incarcerated people take action to fight for their dignity, their rights and their lives, those of us on the outside must answer with solidarity. Our support is crucial in getting their demands met and minimizing retaliation against them. We must let these brave individuals know that we have their backs, and that they will not be forgotten.