Press Release #5


New Report Exposes Rampant Abuse in Broward County Jails

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL – The Covid19 Hotline for Incarcerated People (CHIP) has documented hundreds of calls, detailing medical neglect and abuse in Broward County jails since the outset of the pandemic. 

“Nobody cares for us, we’re like the bottom feeders. If it weren’t for you guys, no one would be hearing our stories.” – Mateo Musgrove, CHIP caller , November 7th, 2020 

CHIP recently released a report based on information collected from callers and family members. The report provides context to the data collected from the jails, as well as a list of demands for immediate changes. A lawsuit filed by the ACLU on June 5, 2020, incorporated some of the early data CHIP collected.

Testimony from the report reads like a horror story. One caller from Broward Main Jail reported waiting eight days to receive treatment for a broken bone. Another caller was denied crucial medication to manage their diabetes. Most CHIP callers asked to remain anonymous or have only their initials listed in the report out of fear of retaliation. 

“I have a torn rotator cuff and haven’t gotten a sling; my roommate has multiple gunshot wounds and isn’t in a medical unit” – Anonymous CHIP caller, August 2nd, 2020. 

While these insights cast a bright light on the injustice of a flawed penal system, the report also illuminates the inadequate health measures taken by Broward County Sheriff’s Office (BSO) to protect prisoners from COVID-19. Many callers described being exposed to the virus by staff or other prisoners, and yet were denied testing. 

“My next cell roommate just tested positive for COVID…Today the dorm was put on quarantine, but I have only had my temperature taken. They are calling this a COVID test, but they are not swabbing us.” – August 11th, 2020. 

CHIP volunteers and hotline callers say false information spread by BSO puts lives at risk. While national statistics show jails and prisons as super spreaders of COVID-19, BSO denies  having more than 14 cases of the virus in Broward Main Jail. CHIP received reports from 254 distinct callers, 75 of whom say they have experienced severe Covid symptoms. 

On November 1st, CHIP held a demonstration outside of Broward Main Jail, in downtown Fort Lauderdale, demanding accountability from BSO. In a video from the event, prisoners can be heard banging on the windows, directing protesters’ attention to signs held against the glass: “HELP US,” “SOS,” and “THANK YOU.” 

“The stories of medical neglect and life-threatening mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic are seemingly endless. The sheriff’s office is responsible and must be held accountable for their negligence,” stated Noam Brown, one of CHIP’s organizers. 

The full report from the Covid-19 Hotline for Incarcerated People is available to read through their website: www.https://chipsouthfl.org.