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Former correctional officer addresses recent inmate violence in Big Bend

Posted at 5:19 PM, Jul 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-18 17:19:51-04

(WTXL) — Recent attacks against correctional officers. That's what's getting attention across the Big Bend.

The most recent involved three officers stabbed by an inmate.

Ray Coleman Jr. worked as a correctional officer for nearly 15 years. He says that the violence needs to stop and gave a solution on how to make it happen.

"It's very traumatic. The things that you see in there, whether it's inmates on staff assaults or inmate on inmate assaults. They are very traumatic experiences," said Coleman Jr., President of American Federation of Government Employees 1570.

That's how Coleman Jr. describes his time as a corrections officer. When he heard about the latest attack against three correctional officers at the Apalachee Correctional Institution, it came as no surprise.

"They normally go under the radar because they do happen very commonly," said Coleman Jr. "I wouldn't say they are out of the ordinary, there's just not a lot of publicity behind it."

From June 18 through 24, there have been nearly 15 attacks in Florida correction facilities.

Coleman Jr. believes it's a problem fueled by under staffing.

"Anytime you are working understaffed, the safety level is decreased, the hazard is increased," said Coleman Jr. "You have to be more cognizant of what's going on."

One way to try and address the issue was Gov. Ron DeSantis recently signing a bill lowering the minimum age to work as a correctional officer in the state from 19 to 18. That went into effect on July 1.

In the response to the attack at the Apalachee Correctional Institution, Secretary Mark Inch said:

"Our officers come to work every day to protect Florida communities and serve courageously in this profession dedicated to public service."

The Federal Correctional Institution in Tallahassee is hosting a career fair on July 27 at their Staff Training Center.