Ex-Florida prison boss: Drunken orgies tainted system
TALLAHASSEE, Florida (CNN)
Softball, drunken orgies and a prison system run like the mafia. That's what Florida's former prison secretary says he inherited when he took over one of the nation's largest prison systems two years ago.
McDonough revealed a startling list of alleged abuses and crimes going on inside Florida's prisons:
• Top prison officials admitting to kickbacks;
• Guards importing and selling steroids in an effort to give them an edge on the softball field;
• Taxpayer funds to pay for booze and women;
• Guards who punished other guards who threatened to report them.
"Corruption had gone to an extreme," McDonough said, saying it all began at the top. "They seemed to be drunk half the time and had orgies the other half, when they weren't taking money and beating each other up." Watch a corrupted prison system »
McDonough described a bizarre prison culture among those that ran the system -- one that he says seemed obsessed with inter-department softball games and the orgies after games.
"I cannot explain how big an obsession softball had become," he said. "People were promoted on the spot after a softball game at the drunken party to high positions in the department because they were able to hit a softball out of the park a couple times."
A Brooklyn, New York, native, McDonough says he witnessed the way the mafia worked in his youth and it provided him a keen insight into how his prison predecessor, James Crosby, operated.
"It reminded me of the petty mafia I saw on the streets of Brooklyn when I was growing up in the late 1950s, early 1960s -- petty, small-minded, thugish, violent, dangerous, outside the law, and completely intolerable for a society such as ours in the United States of America," he said...
And getting rid of this "cancer" is exactly what McDonough says he did. McDonough fired 90 top prison officials -- wardens, supervisors, colonels and majors -- claiming they were corrupt or, at the very least, not to be trusted. He demoted 280 others...
Among those arrested were seven officers accused of beating inmates, including five accused of forcing a prisoner to drink toilet water. All have pleaded not guilty.
Tina Hayes...said employees who didn't attend softball games or play on the teams were "isolated" and "pushed aside."
McDonough says the majority of the prison system's 28,000 employees were honest, hard-working people who weren't corrupt at all. But he says many of the top prison officials weren't and he believes he has weeded out "an organized vein of corruption."
"They were like frat boys out of control."