An in-your-face sign of some of what’s wrong with the United States’ prison system: two correction officers and a former co-worker were members of the Ku Klux Klan and plotted to kill a Black inmate upon his release from prison.
This is not the imaginative fancy of a movie-maker, unfortunately. Even for Hollywood standards it would seem a stretch in 2015, one would think.
One would be wrong.
The three men—Thomas Jordan Driver, 25, David Elliot Moran, 47, and 42-year-old Charles Thomas Newcomb—were arrested Thursday on one state count of conspiracy to commit murder, according to a statement from Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office.
Driver and Moran are current employees of the Department of Corrections, and Newcomb is a former corrections employee. They were members of the Traditional America Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.
According to the statement, Driver got into a fight with the unnamed African-American. That was enough for the trio to plot his murder.
This case will be prosecuted in Columbia County in north Florida. The FBI’s office in Jacksonville said it would not comment on an open investigation.
A wide-ranging investigation by the FBI, U.S. Customs, Border Patrol and other state and local agencies uncovered the evil scheme. Driver was hired in July 2010, according to research website Find The Data, while Moran was hired to his post in January 1996. Driver and Moran work at the Department of Corrections Reception and Medical Center in Lake Butler, Fla., about 55 miles southwest of Jacksonville, authorities said. Newcomb worked at the same facility, officials said. Driver and Moran will be booked at the Union County Jail, while Newcomb, held on $750,000 bond, was taken to the Alachua County Jail.
This case is the latest in an ugly list of incidents within the Florida Corrections Department.
Last fall, DOC officials fired nearly 50 prison employees, including several over allegations that they punched and beat inmates.
Then there were the deaths of Randall Jordan-Aparo and Darren Rainey that also drew attention to Florida’s system. Rainey, a mentally ill prisoner, was punished in 2012 with a shower so hot that his skin separated from his body. Jordan-Aparo was reportedly gassed while in a confinement cell.
Witnesses say guards at Dade Correctional Institution left Rainey alone for two hours in a locked, scalding hot shower as punishment for defecating in his cell and refusing to clean it up. The warden at Dade Correctional was fired.
Now is the report that former KKK members actually worked as correction officers at prisons, which only adds to the troubled systems horrific reputation.