It comes as no great surprise that Florida prisons are full of illegal drugs.

A secretly filmed video shot by an inmate at Martin Correctional Institution and leaked to the Miami Herald shows what appears to be widespread drug use. Inmates are left unconscious or convulsing.

What is surprising is that the Florida Department of Corrections hasn’t even tracked how many inmates required medical attention for overdoses in the last three years, The News Service of Florida reported.

This is a prison system struggling with a long record of mismanagement and inadequate funding. Adding illegal drugs that can make prisoners aggressive certainly doesn’t help.

We know from the opioid epidemic that many illegal drugs are being cut with dangerous chemicals like fentanyl that can kill. As one physician said, using illegal drugs today is like playing Russian roulette.

Matt Puckett, executive director of the Florida Police Benevolent Association, was quoted as saying that prisoners should take "personal responsibility" for the contraband drug problems in the prison system.

Well, of course. They’re criminals. They’re in prison precisely because they have problems with taking personal responsibility.

The Corrections Department said in a statement that they use every tool possible to mitigate violence and contraband in the system. For instance, body scanners can detect drugs ingested by inmates.

But without data, how can the problem ever be solved? It stands to reason, for instance, that some prisons are doing a better job than others. Which ones? And what are their best practices?

Florida needs an independent agency to provide oversight of its huge and expensive prison system.

 

Anti-vaxxers suppress a bill

We live in an age where social media has turbocharged urban legends.

It’s bad enough that some people think the moon landing was a hoax. It’s worse when false beliefs threaten our health.

Proponents use American traditions like freedom of religion as excuses for not getting their children vaccinated.

As a result, the United States is undergoing an outbreak of measles not seen in decades. Through Oct. 3, there have been 1,250 cases in 31 states. A childhood disease that was once thought to be eradicated with modern medicine is making a comeback.

Florida has both a medical and a religious exemption. The religious exemption is so liberal, however, it may as well be a personal exemption. Very few organized religions prohibit vaccinations, so it is distressing that a bill to eliminate Florida’s religious exemption has already been killed without even going through the legislative process.

Sen. Lauren Book, D-Plantation, told the GateHouse Capital Bureau that the bill she filed will not be heard this session. Anti-vaxxers filled public hearings with Florida lawmakers and targeted Book with a "vicious social media campaign," GateHouse reported.

Measles is an incredibly contagious disease. That is why vaccinations must reach 95 percent coverage in a community to obtain the "herd effect," meaning one person with measles won’t spread the disease.

A longer version of this editorial first appeared in the Florida Times-Union, a News Herald sister paper with GateHouse Media.