TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Department of Corrections has placed 10 employees on administrative leave after a survey of corrections institutions found several children had been tased while visiting South Florida facilities.
The incidents happened April 23 at the Indian River Correctional Institution in Vero Beach and the Martin Correctional Institution in Indiantown. The children were visiting the facilities as part of "Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day" tours, state officials said.
"Each incident is isolated," said Gretl Plessinger, a spokeswoman for the DOC. "Each incident is different."
An investigation into the incidents is ongoing, Plessinger added. Sgt. Walter Schmidt Jr., of Perry, was fired April 27 after state officials learned he had zapped children with an electrical immobilization device (EID) in Franklin County. Those children were also on an April 23 "Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day" tour. ...
According to the DOC, the employees placed on leave from Martin Correctional Institution are: Thomas Skillings, correctional officer; Kory L. Rupp, secretary specialist; Annette Ennis, secretary specialist; Russell Bourgault, correctional officer lieutenant; and Randy Kartner, correctional officer.
According to the DOC, the employees placed on leave from Indian River Correctional Institution are: Seth Adams, correctional officer major; PJ Weisner, correctional officer lieutenant; Charmaine Davis, correctional officer sergeant; and Linda Rosado, correctional officer sergeant.Steve Rich, a staff development training consultant for DOC's Region IV, also was placed on leave, according to the DOC.
The children, ranged in age from 5 to 17, felt the shocks either directly or indirectly, but none of the children were seriously hurt or taken to the hospital, the department said.
All of the children had parents who work for the department and some parents gave permission for their children to be shocked, but that did not excuse officers for using the stun guns, Department of Corrections Secretary Walter McNeil said Friday.
"We believe this behavior is inexcusable," McNeil said in a phone interview. "I apologize to the children and parents. None of these kids should have been exposed to these devices."
McNeil said he had never been shocked by one of the devices but that the circle demonstration is something commonly done in training classes for correctional officers.Officials are also investigating a demonstration of tear gas at Lake Correctional Institution in Clermont. Children there were accidentally exposed to the gas when the wind shifted, but none required medical care. That investigation is not yet complete.