Randy Oliver
Randy Oliver

On February 15, 2022, a persistent staffing shortage at Florida’s Citrus County Detention Facility (CCDF) caused county officials to begin fining the facility’s privately contracted operator, Tennessee-based CoreCivic, $2,500 per day for operating the prison with insufficient personnel on hand. In a letter to county commissioners dated February 18, 2022, County Administrator Randy Oliver notified them that CoreCivic will have $77,500 deducted off its current payment three days later.

The penalties is a slap on the wrist for CoreCivic, which claimed $1.86 billion in revenue for fiscal year 2021. However, it was plenty to get corporate leaders on a private aircraft and off to the Florida prison, where they were accompanied by numerous temporary guards. On February 10, 2022, the firm declared that former CCDF Warden Mike Quinn and three other staff members were “no longer employed” by the company.

Corecivic fined upon 2 deaths

Warden Jerry Wardlow
Warden Jerry Wardlow

That news followed the deaths of two female CCDF detainees. Lisa Ann Trombley, 48, jumped to her death from the second floor on October 17, 2021, three weeks after she was imprisoned for failure to appear on a charge alleging she violated her ex-husband’s restraining order with a text message to him. In the isolation cell where Valerie Susan Bogle, 63, had been detained since her arrest for battery four days earlier, she was discovered dead of dehydration on November 2, 2021.

Oliver acknowledged the difficulties of staffing in the pandemic economy in his letter to acting CCDF Warden Jerry Wardlow, but he emphasized the importance of seeing progress, noting that CoreCivic’s most recent staffing report, published in January 2022, showed a “continuous decline in staffing levels when compared to prior months.”

The county notified Quinn of its concerns about staffing at the lockup in May and August of the following year, he said, before issuing a third warning in November 2021, demanding that the required positions be filled by January 1, 2022, or the county would begin enforcing contractual obligations by levying fines. As soon as Quinn left the room, Wardlow was left in control when the bill was due.

CoreCivic has been in charge of the CCDF since 1995. Its most current contract, which was approved by the county in July 2020 and is due to end in September 2030, was signed in July of that year. The private prison contractor pledged to fill at least twelve day postings, eight night posts, and thirteen 40-hour-a-week positions as a result of the agreement. It claimed that CCDF was staffed to 94 percent compliance after the corporation flew in reinforcements to the scene. Nevertheless, there were no reliable reports available for the county commissioners’ meeting on February 22, 2022.

Source: Citrus County Chronicle, PLN