In just the latest example of abuse in Florida's prison system, two current and one former Department of Corrections employees were arrested today on charges of conspiracy to commit capital murder. Besides wearing the DOC badge, the three men also wore the hoods of white terrorist organization the Ku Klux Klan and had planned to murder an African-American inmate in retaliation for a fight he had with one of the men.
Thomas Jordan Driver, 25; David Elliot Morgan, 47; and Charles Thomas Newcomb, 42 were arrested this morning, according to Attorney General Pam Bondi's office. Driver has been employed by DOC as a correctional officer since 2010, while Morgan has been an employee since 1996 and works as a correctional officer sergeant. They both worked at the DOC Reception and Medical Center in Lake Butler. Newcomb no longer works for the state but also worked as a prison guard.
All three men belonged to the Traditional Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. The group's website says they "are unapologetically committed to the interest and values of the white race!" The site also claims its members "are not hypocrites or cowards, but are willing to boldly face the tasks before us and to fight until victory."
According to reports, the men targeted the black inmate after he started some sort of fight with Driver. The three men planned to commit the murder once the target had been released from prison.
The arrests were made by the FBI this morning, but a wide range of agencies assisted with the investigation, including Homeland Security Investigations, the Florida Department of Corrections Office of Inspector General, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Florida Highway Patrol, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, and the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office.
Bondi's office will prosecute the case in Columbia County.
Newcomb is being held in Alachua County Jail on $750,000 bond. He had recently been arrested in February in Clay County. He was charged with impersonating an officer.
It's unclear at the moment where the other two are being held.
This is not the only recent scandal to mar Florida's DOC. Last year the department fired 50 employees, many of them for punching and physically abusing inmates. In Miami-Dade County, the warden of the Dade Correctional Institution was fired after two cops left Darren Rainey, a mentally ill African-American inmate, in a scalding shower for two hours.