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National

FL: A look inside Florida Civil Commitment Center life: Pesci v. Budz

[law.justia.com – 8/21/19]

James Pesci is a detainee at the Florida Civil Commitment Center (FCCC), a for-profit facility that houses sex offenders involuntarily committed under Florida’s Involuntary Civil Commitment of Sexually Violent Predators Act. Pesci is not a prisoner; like the other roughly 600 residents of FCCC, he has already served out his prison sentence. Instead, he is involuntarily committed because the State has determined that he is a “sexually violent predator” likely to engage in future “acts of sexual violence if not confined in a secure facility for long-term control, care, and treatment.”

For many years, Pesci published a monthly newsletter, Duck Soup, which frequently excoriated FCCC’s staff, sex offender treatment program, and conditions of confinement. Pesci envisioned Duck Soup as “the uncensored pulse of the compound,” dedicated to exposing “corruption at FCCC.”

In November 2010, Budz issued a new policy, which declared “that Duck Soup was now contraband.

In July 2010—a few months before Duck Soup was banned—Pesci filed a pro se§ 1983 complaint against Budz alleging that the 2009 printing restrictions on … Duck Soup violated his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The district court concluded that the 2009 policy did not violate Pesci’s constitutional rights and granted summary judgment in favor of Budz.

Read the full Pesci v. Budz

 

Join the discussion

  1. Bo

    So, where can we get his new writings, the “Instigator”. Is there a way to see his publications?

  2. Eric

    So how many drunk driving offenses can a person in Florida receive before the state psychiatrists rule the person is a habitual offender and incapable of rehabilitation? It is obviously more than two.

  3. Bean

    As a former resident of FCCC, I can confirm that it is really all about extending the prison sentences for people who have already served their time. Residents are able to get about 5 to 6 hours of treatment per week. Yet they are forced to be there 24/7. The conditions of confinement are, in many ways, worse that what they endured while in prison. The majority are forced to live in “open-bay” dorms without any privacy, almost constant noise, and a very prison like environment. Most of the officers are hell-bent on being as obnoxious and punitive as possible. There are far fewer recreational opportunities than were available in prison. Most prisons have a large “rec” yard where inmates can play football, soccer, baseball, volleyball, basketball, horseshoes, and can run. FCCC has a small, mostly blacktop, yard that is barely larger than a basketball court. There is almost no green space. Most indoor communal spaces are “multi-purpose” which means that it can be used only for one type of activity at a time. So, finding space to do anything is a problem. The facility is actually a jail that they simply repurposed as a civil commitment center.
    Even the Florida legislature has admitted that the civil commitment law is a “stop gap” measure. (The penalties were dramatically increased in the late 1990’s. The legislature, apparently, did not like that those who committed crimes before the increase in penalties would not serve as much time in prison, so they created the civil commitment law. This is the “stop-gap”.
    While most of the clinical staff are really trying their best, they are forced to either take a back seat to the FCCC Administration’s and Security Staff’s punitive policies or risk being fired.
    Residents, who are there for treatment, instead end up with an incredible amount of distracting stress due to inadequate space, facilities, food, privacy, and peace, that they get a tiny fraction of the potential benefit of treatment. Your tax dollars at work, folks. The program could be a huge benefit to society, but, instead of doing it properly, the law makers have done as little as possible (even to the point to creating special exemptions that allow them to not give the same benefits that all other mental health commitments receive in Florida). In short, it is nothing more that a way to secure votes and a money grab by the for profit corporation the is able to provide enough kickbacks to secure the operational contract.

  4. David Kennerly

    Keep in mind that these people are not being “punished” by being in these civil commitment programs; they are being “held in the least restrictive means possible” while still possessing their civil liberties (except the one that lets them walk out the door).

    Banning a publication which criticizes the institution which is illegally holding them, written by detainees who possess freedom of expression, is clearly a very bad constitutional call and the judge who delivered that decision is a very bad judge. Such egregious injustices are being meted out across the U.S. as well as here on the Subducting West Coast on a rather grand scale (more than a thousand at California State Hospital, Coalinga).

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