Monday, July 14, 2014


Prosecutors and Judges often wonder why clients facing ten years in prison balk at a reduced offer of five or three? 

One reason is that they are not entering a "correctional facility" designed to modify their behavior and return them to society better adjusted and ready to live a law-abiding life. 

They are entering hell. 

Here is the Herald's report: 

For weeks, the Miami Herald has reported on claims of abusive treatment by corrections officers, as related by inmates, nurses and a psychotherapist, primarily at Dade Correctional Institution, where an inmate was herded into a scorching hot shower and left until he collapsed and died. Now claims of abuse are coming from DOC investigators, the persons charged with rooting out such abuses...

“We got inmates down there that are getting their throats slashed on a regular basis,’’ Land said, according to a transcript of the Miguel interview filed with the lawsuit. “Their faces slashed, beat down with locks and socks; tremendous amount of contraband … allegations that staff is ordering this and bringing in contraband and being paid … and everybody we’re talking to is saying, ‘You know they killed that kid.’ ”

And the NY Times reports that a popular sport at Rikers Island - the second largest jail in the US- is beating up mentally ill inmates. What fun!

After being arrested on a misdemeanor charge following a family dispute last year, Jose Bautista was unable to post $250 bail and ended up in a jail cell on Rikers Island.
A few days later, he tore his underwear, looped it around his neck and tried to hang himself from the cell’s highest bar. Four correction officers rushed in and cut him down. But instead of notifying medical personnel, they handcuffed Mr. Bautista, forced him to lie face down on the cell floor and began punching him with such force, according to New York City investigators, that he suffered a perforated bowel and needed emergency surgery.

So why aren't clients jumping at those deals? 

See You In Court. 

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/07/07/4223414/prison-system-mired-in-corruption.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/07/07/4223414/prison-system-mired-in-corruption.html#storylink=cpy



I am still in fear of the sound of that "clanging steel door" closing behind you when you enter the jail or prison in Florida!

It symbolizes more to me than just the sound. It is a "HORROR". It is "MEDIEVAL". It is Plain HELL.

It is so foreign to me to house human beings in cells like animals under filthy conditions filled with rodents, bugs of unknown origins and bacteria that thrive in those dark and cold halls of "rehabilitation."

One steel toilet in the middle of a cell filled with 40 strangers, mostly violent … but some passive and scared. Could you imagine the first day that you are there and you need to sit on the cold steel pot in the middle of the cell to evacuate the near poison food that you were served?

How about the rapes that are so violent and animalistic that the victim is left permanently scarred and scared for life? The victim who is newly indoctrinated to life with 40 strange violent guys in the cell … and no guards caring or listening to the blood curdling screams of his anal cavity being ripped open like a bag of peanuts?

How is this not a Violation of the 8th Amendment? I am just describing "PRETRIAL" JAIL in Miami Dade County next door to the jail!!! Presumed Innocent Territory … but "I just can't pay the bail so I wait the 3 years till trial".

As a Former Judge, there were defendants that were just so violent -- on a repeated basis -- that there was no other alternative but to take them out of society and protect all of us. Never mind rehabilitation, a farce. Please know that I NEVER took sentencing anyone to jail or prison lightly.

There is no greater power that any other profession has in this country than the power to incarcerate another -- especially into this medieval
and ultra violent system.

Upon reflection, now that I have evolved into a more humanistic, kinder, peaceful, wisdom filled man …. I could never serve in the position of Judging another….

Anonymous said...

A good movie on this subject is "The Experiment." Not that anyone (Corrections included) deserves a break for beating another human being just because you can, but it does shed light on the subject. One of the saddest sights I've seen at DCJ is a homeless person diving into the pile of trash and food in the corner of a cell to eat right after a rat walked out of it. When incarceration is no longer an industry that is run like a hotel, maybe we can actually make advancements in society.

Anonymous said...

not to downplay the horrors described herein, but this stuff has been going on for centuries in just about every state in the country. As much as I cannot stand the federal government, give the devil its due. Their prison system is a model for the world.

Anonymous said...


Rick Freedman said...

Judge. Thank you for that post.

As a young Assistant PD, I would daily have to make my way over to the Pretrial Detention Center to visit my clients. Everything about that experience of spending time in that facility was horrible, disgusting, dehumanizing, etc.

So when I would be standing in court on a daily basis, it would piss me off whenever I heard a Judge or a young ASA state, "lets just roll that case over for 'tommorow' because maybe they wanted to finish their calendar or corrections hadn't brought the inmate over yet.

I would always suggest to those that made that statement, and others, that everyone should be required to spend just 24 hours in that jail before they were ever put in a position of being a Judge or ASA. They might not be so quick to make that suggestion so flippantly, so nonchalantly, so easily, in the future.

I agree that there are those among us in society where that place is the only place for them. The worst of the worst.

But for most first time offenders and other non violent defendants, the DCJ, DCI, and many of the other correctional facilities around our State, are not fit for human residence; any human. Like Rumpole stated, it is a place more akin to hell.

Anonymous said...

Plus Judge Colby as I am sure you are aware , they often don't serve low sodium soy sauce with the sashimi appetizer and the lemon slices in the water leave much to be desired not to mention they aren't organic. These are things I am sure you also find abhorrent when you dine at the Forge.

Anonymous said...

The Florida Dept. of Corruption is, has been and always will be a kingdom of corruption. I say Kingdom because it is run like a kingdom or a dictatorship with the administration of the DOC not being held accountable to anyone. All the prisons are in areas that are highly blighted with no other industry to speak of. All the CO's are family members (nepotism) or the surrounding area and grew up with each other. It is in their best interest to keep any problems "in house" so their gravy train is not derailed. They say and do anything to the inmates because they know that nothing will happen to them. The public feels like everyone deserves to be there...out of sight, out of mind. Thus free reign on the incarceratd. The DOC has the largest budget in the State of Florida yet no one holds them accountable for anything. When an inmate tries to bring light onto a problem within the system their cries go unnoticed because they are swept under a rug. Such corruption...look into the canteen contract between the DOC and its vendor. A few years ago there was a public corruption conviction for the Director of the DOC for kickbacks.....but the DOC still uses the same vendor for its canteen contract to this day!! Prices are so high that most prisoners cannot buy any comfort items such as toilet paper because the DOC has limited each inmate to 1 roll of toilet paper every 10 days and they have to buy their own to be able to fulfill a basic human need. Voters ignore our state prisons and its administration....its time to hold them accountable. When they are caught doing wrong they hide behind corporate speak..."we were unaware", "its still under investigation", "the officer is under suspension WITH PAY while an investigation is conducted" etc. What a joke. And we allow this type of behavior from our state employees. Worse case they lose their job unless the union fights to get them reinstated. if the average joe conducted himself the way most of the CO's trat the inmates we would be up on charges!! Is it right that losing a job is equitable justice? No criminal record to follow them for the rest of their life? Ridiculous..."professional courtesy" be damned. The State of Florida DOC has not changed in 100 years in its attitudes for criminal incarceration. They have become more sophisticated in their techniques of abuse and educated in their actions and language in order to put up the smoke screen to hide and bury their wrong doings. It is still a "good 'ol boy/girl" network and don't you forget it.




The DBR has a feature on Judge Dawn Denaro that is a good read and can be found here:

Dad's Gentle Persuasion Put Art Historian In Courtroom

Having a high-profile criminal defense attorney for a dad didn't persuade Miami-Dade County Court Judge Dawn Denaro to become a lawyer. His powers of persuasion did.

She planned on becoming an art historian.

"I really wanted to be a scout for art talent," she said.

Read more: http://www.dailybusinessreview.com/id=1202662859372/Dads-Gentle-Persuasion-Put-Art-Historian-In-Courtroom#ixzz37ThdIdtJ

Cap Out .....

DS said...

Well written Mr. Colby.
When that outside gate clangs closed you KNOW your IN.
" Hold the gate'
And we know we will be getting out, soon.
I was at DCJ visiting a some of my guys last week. one day I walked out to brilliant sunshine. .Another day last week, I walked out to misting rain.
There is nothing like that first breath of Free Fresh Air when you walk out of DCJ., its always so sweet

Anonymous said...

Think Ive appeared in front of every judge in the building enough now to say that, of all of them, Ive only ever heard Judge Will Thomas express any kind of public recognition of what jail really is.

An ASA in his court once said something like, "only 30 days," and Thomas -- on the record -- made it very clear exactly what "only 30 days" means in Dade County Jail.

As we all know, he'll give life or death where appropriate. But he knows the value of 24 hours in that jail.

Anonymous said...

Bravo 2:32. Well said.

el Doctor said...


To the Bastille

Anonymous said...

What is it with the "dislike" floating around towards Hector Lombana. Three CABA former Presidents and the majority of the current board/chairs say he is nuts and to stay away from him. Last night a JQC and Ethics violation was mentioned by a respectable attorney for his heavy handed tactics against Judge Thomas and Saenz. Will Hector go from Pedro Pan to Solo Comiendo Pan real soon?

Unknown said...

Outstanding, enlightening writing Judge. I commend your honesty and character.