ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - The Florida Department of Corrections is investigating the assault of an inmate at a prison in Orange County after he suffered serious injuries requiring surgery at the hands of correctional officers, according to Tampa Rep. Dianne Hart.
Hart issued a statement Thursday about the incident because she said the inmate, whom she identified as Carlton Hart, is her former brother-in-law.
According to the Democratic state lawmaker, the inmate was at the Central Florida Reception Center, which is a state prison in Orange County, when he was injured. Dianne Hart issued the statement after speaking to Department of Corrections Secretary Mark Inch about the incident.
“Although Carlton is my former brother-in-law, the facts are that this assault left a citizen under our care with a broken jaw, broken nose, broken cheekbone, and a fractured eye socket," Dianne Hart said. "If the Department of Corrections really has a zero tolerance policy, as the Secretary says, whoever is responsible for this needs to go to jail.”
Dianne Hart said Inch told her four correctional officers are under investigation and no longer have contact with any inmates. However, she said she still has concerns.
“I believe the moment you know that officers are involved, put them on some type of administrative leave, period," Dianne Hart said. "Take them out of the facilities.”
According to the representative's statement, Carlton Hart was transferred to another facility, where he underwent surgery to repair his jaw. His mouth will be wired shut for six weeks while he recovers, she said.
A spokesperson for the Florida Department of Corrections confirmed it is investigating the incident.
"The Florida Department of Corrections is aware of this incident and takes it, and all allegations of abuse or mistreatment of inmates, seriously. The FDC Office of Inspector General is conducting a thorough investigation. The Office of Inspector General, along with the leadership at Central Florida Reception Center, have a track record of ensuring that any individuals involved in misconduct are held fully accountable."
The FDC and leadership at Central Florida Reception Center have zero tolerance for staff who act inappropriately, according to the statement.
When the Department of Corrections investigation is complete a report will be made available to the public.
This assault follows the recent arrest of three Lake County correctional officers who were recorded beating a Lake County inmate.
The footage recorded by another inmate shows an officer punching another inmate multiple times.
The department also fired the three employees, according to the FDC.
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