FDLE investigating incident at Lowell Correctional Institution

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement says it’s investigating a use of force incident at Lowell Correctional Institution in Ocala.

Florida Senator Jeff Brandes says he started receiving emails about the incident Thursday morning from family members of inmates.

“It’s a very serious injury is what I’ve heard,” Brandes said.

Corrections officials say the preliminary reports out of Lowell are concerning. They say the officers involved have been reassigned, so they’re not in contact with prisoners and the inmate is receiving treatment.  But details of what exactly happened Wednesday are not being released.

“I think in light of what’s happened at Lake… what’s happened at other institutions around the state, we’re watching these things very closely right now,” Brandes said.

Lake Correctional Institution in Clermont has been the center of a use of force investigation after video of an inmate beating came out last month. So far, four correctional officers have been criminally charged and fired in connection to the encounter.

Family members of the inmate Otis Miller say the guards did some serious damage.

“Fractured jaw, fractured – damage to the eye, fractured ribs,” said Shantell Grace, Miller’s sister.
Lowell also has a troubled past.

Court records show that in January, an officer was arrested. He was accused of causing an inmate to fall on her face – which led to knocked out teeth and permanent disfigurement.

In 2018, the Department of Justice opened a civil rights probe at the prison into allegations of sexual misconduct among guards.

“I think what you’ve seen is the Department continues to be in crisis,” Brandes said.

Brandes says the key to bettering conditions inside prisons will be hiring more, well-qualified guards.