History of the Florida Department of Corrections

As seen on Examiner.com


Residents of Florida can learn fascinating history through the Florida Department of Corrections timeline. Beginning at 1821, when Florida became a U.S. territory, the time line traces the history of prisons and correctional facilities until present time. The timeline is referred to as “Centuries of Progress”.
The site is rich with photographs detailing the progress Florida has made, and shows that Florida didn’t have its first prison facility until 1868 when the Chattahoochee Penitentiary accepted its first inmate, Calvin Williams. Mr. Williams had been convicted of larceny in November 1868 and served one year at Chattahoochee.
It doesn’t take long before a reading of the timeline alerts you to the reality that abuse was common throughout the earliest stages of the Florida correctional department. Intense labor, floggings, and being shackled 24 hours per day were the norm. Many of Florida’s earliest prisoners died, nameless and buried in caskets crafted from simple pine boxes.
The timeline also features some of the most historical moments throughout the Florida Department of Corrections. You can read about the Aycock fire of 1905, the first Florida prison insurrection on November 12, 1914, Florida’s infamous chain gangs, and see photos of “sweat boxes”. These were structures, typically 6' x 6' x 3’ where several men might be locked inside as punishment. Many of these abuses went unnoticed until the brutal death of Martin Tabert, at the hands of a prison guard.
Inmates built the first electric chair in 1922; it was proposed to be a more humane death than hanging. The first Florida inmate executed by the electric chair was an African American male, Frank Johnson; he was executed on October 7, 1924.
Sunbeam Prison Camp was described as a hellhole on earth, and was the location of the infamous chain gang hanging. The case of Arthur Maillefert went to trial and was said to be the most brutal case of abuse they had yet to see in a Florida prison.
Click below to see the timeline.

Florida Department of Corrections Timeline


Important resources available online.
Related Books and Articles
Florida Sweat Box Arthur Maillefet (Time Article first published on Oct.24, 1932)

 Photo Credit: Florida Department of Corrections