The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Florida Prisoner Documents Barbaric Prison Conditions

Oct 14, 2019

A Florida prisoner, Scott Whitney, recorded videos inside the Martin Correctional Facility since 2015. He managed to have some of them smuggled out, clips from 2017 on, and the Miami Herald published some on its website. Whitney’s videos provide an exceptional glimpse into the conditions under which prisoners are forced to live.

They show, for example, walls in the prison kitchen completely covered in mold. They show prisoners fighting one another, with no intervention by guards, using weapons varying from homemade knives to locks they swing at one another. Whitney demonstrates a knife-proof vest he made for protection, with mattress material and books stuffed into pockets lining the vest.

Whitney’s video shows drugs smoked openly and easily accessible. The most common drug is K2, also known as Spice or “twak.” Prisoners can make K2, a synthetic marijuana-like drug, using common household items. It’s harder than other drugs to detect in a urine test. It also varies, however, in its make-up and potency, and prisoners often overdose on it.

It took a great deal of courage for Whitney to take the videos and get them smuggled out of the prison, supported by other prisoners. He once had a phone confiscated and was put into “confinement” as punishment. Since the Miami Herald recently posted his smuggled videos, he has once again been returned to confinement.

Whitney’s videos show the conditions of life at Martin Correctional are like those in medieval dungeons. They are, however, hardly unique to one Florida prison.

Fyodor Dostoevsky, the famed Russian novelist, once wrote, “The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.” Scott Whitney managed to capture the barbarism of prison life in his prison and in so doing show the barbaric nature of life under American capitalism.