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Ocala
Monday, November 22, 2021

Marion and Alachua county residents share thoughts, concerns on county jail’s treatment of inmates

In response to a recent letter discussing the Marion County Jail’s treatment of inmates, residents from Ocala, Silver Springs, and Gainesville wrote in and shared their thoughts and concerns on this topic.

“Don’t break the law if you want to be treated right. Bottom line: if you got arrested anywhere else, no one would care. People easily break the law here because the consequences are soft. You lose your rights, your dignity, and anyone to care when you go to jail. So don’t break the law,” says Ocala resident Linda Martinez.

“I, too, spent two weeks in the Marion County Jail for driving an unregistered moped on a bike path and I found the jail appalling. I was denied my bipolar medication the whole time I was in there. They claimed they called my pharmacy and my pharmacy claimed they never heard of me, which was a lie. I lost eight pounds in two weeks from the jail food. There isn’t enough supervision. The gangs run the jails. And the ‘jail programs’ are virtually nonexistent. The ‘recovery program’ is laughable. People with traffic misdemeanors are housed with violent felons. If I was sheriff, I would be ashamed of this jail,” says Colleen O’Brien of Silver Springs.

“I have numerous letters from inmates that I’ve bonded out that explained their occurrences in the Marion County Jail. This should be noticed because it is very true the way that the jail is ran. The way that the jail treats their inmates is inhumane. The jail should be ran by a private company, not by Sheriff Billy Woods. He has no clue what happens at the jail, and if he does he should be ashamed of himself. This should be brought to the county commissioners. This is Marion County, and we as a county should want every aspect of the county to be great. And not every person that goes to jail is a criminal, some make bad decisions in the moment. Plus, in any part of the United States of America, you are innocent until proven guilty in the court of law,” says Ocala resident Robert Fox.

“My son has been incarcerated there for the last 10 months awaiting disposition of his case. I talk with him daily and every day he complains to me about the serving size and quality of the food being served. He tells me about the lack of fruits, juice, milk, and proteins.
With that not being bad enough, the county jail suspended our ability to be able to make canteen purchases for our loved ones. Most people do not know that the jail charges each inmate $3 per day for being locked up, and if we put any money on the books for our loved ones, the jail takes their money first. If there is anything left, the inmate can then make purchases from the canteen. I also know that the contractors that run their medical services are unreliable at best. It takes an act of congress for inmates to see a real doctor. It’s bad enough being in jail. The things that the Marion County Jail is doing are criminal and immoral. Since the jail is privately owned, they more or less make their own rules, not like state prisons that have the same rules for every facility. I honestly recommend that a week-long, unannounced surprise inspection and review of activities of daily living be done and checked. This is the United States and prisoners have rights. Rights that are clearly being violated every day. Yes, the people in jail are mostly criminals with some innocent folks too, but no human should be treated the way Marion County Jail inmates are treated. It truly is this bad. If you doubt it, let’s have an inspection done, complete with interviews from several inmates. Let’s be transparent in your operations top to bottom from booking to finances. Let’s see what is really going on there. It could be you or your loved one that’s incarcerated in that place,” says Martin Marszalek of Gainesville.

Would you like to share your thoughts with us? Share them in a comment or by writing a Letter to the Editor.