Slain Corrections Officer Not Wearing Body Alarm

Donna Fitzgerald was killed at the Tomoka Correctional Institution in Daytona Beach in June.

MIAMI (AP) — A Florida corrections officer killed while supervising inmates in a work program was not wearing a body alarm or carrying a radio at the time, and the inmate charged in her killing may not have been eligible to be in the program, an investigation found.

Donna Fitzgerald, 50, was killed at the Tomoka Correctional Institution in Daytona Beach in June, the first corrections officer killed in the state in five years.

Fitzgerald had been supervising inmates for PRIDE Enterprises, a nonprofit company that runs work programs in Florida prisons, when she was attacked and repeatedly stabbed with a piece of sheet metal. An Inspector General’s Office report dated October 30 but released Wednesday said she was without security measures when killed, but it was unclear why or if the precautions would have helped.

Among other findings of the report:

– Inmates working at Tomoka “often have” unsupervised access to tools that could be used in an escape or to do bodily harm, a violation of an agreement between PRIDE and the Department of Corrections.

– Manuals governing work assignments are inconsistent. One suggests the inmate accused of Fitzgerald’s murder, 39-year-old Enoch Hall, should not have been working for the program because he was serving two life sentences. Another manual does not exclude inmates serving life sentences. Of the 13 inmates Fitzgerald was supervising, eight were serving life sentences.

– Hall, who worked as a welder, had participated in the work program since 1999 and had no history of disciplinary reports while working. He did have four disciplinary reports in prison, however, and was put in confinement for two months in 2000 for attacking or attempting to attack another inmate with a bed rail.

– Two security officers are normally on duty at the PRIDE facility where Fitzgerald was working. On the day Fitzgerald was killed, she was alone because another officer had called out sick. Fitzgerald herself was substituting for another officer.

– A manual says inmates with a history of violence, which would have included Hall, should be assessed before assigning them to a job that would routinely place them in isolated contact with a member of the opposite gender. During the past year, there have been 11 times when one female staff member was supervising male inmates working at Tomoka. Fitzgerald herself had worked alone six times.

A Department of Corrections team will take the Inspector General report and recommend any changes to help ensure officers’ safety, according the Department of Corrections spokeswoman Jo Ellyn Rackleff.

The department is reviewing the more than 40 PRIDE facilities in the state and will study which types of inmates should be working in certain locations and jobs. Since Fitzgerald’s killing, the department has also worked with PRIDE to ensure there is sufficient security and staff.

The last time a Florida correctional officer was killed was 2003 when officer Darla Lathrem, 38, was killed during an escape attempt.



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