By John-Thor Dahlburg
Los Angeles Times
MIAMI // Florida's Department of Corrections, the nation's third-largest with 128 prisons and other facilities housing more than 85,000 inmates, is in the throes of a multifaceted scandal that shows no sign of stopping.
A new interim chief appointed by Gov. Jeb Bush has been firing wardens and probing possible cases of corruption and cronyism among prison personnel, while state and federal agents have been investigating a prison-based steroid ring, theft of state property and misuse of inmate labor.
"The absence of integrity, the brutality displayed and unleashed on others, and the dearth of leadership was totally unacceptable," said interim Corrections Secretary James McDonough, a decorated war veteran and Florida's former drug czar.
In March, McDonough fired four prison wardens, three assistant wardens and two regional directors, saying that they "did not have my trust and confidence to lead department personnel in the way they deserve to be led."
Harry K. Singletary Jr., the state's corrections secretary from 1991 to 1999, said the department he once headed had been sullied by "a tragedy of epic proportions."