Updated: Jan 19, 2019
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Recently my boyfriend and I took a trip to Florida, so of course we had to find something to explore while we were there. We stumbled across this gem after not being able to get in to the first location we had planned. As a nurse that works in corrections, this was exciting and nothing out of the ordinary to see all at the same time.
This facility first opened as a prison farm in 1932. It was designed to hold 200 inmates but before its close was housing 1,200 plus, with 200 correctional officers. At prison farms, which are still in existence today, inmates are put to work doing a variety of agricultural jobs. They grow food for the facility, surrounding facilities, and anything left over the government can sell for a profit. Inmates are also leased out to private enterprises at a steeply discounted rate for labor, the government pockets the money, and in exchange inmates receive time off of their sentences. There is a long history of abuse in this system.
This facility changed names several times over its history. This facility was closed in 2011. The state of Florida was seeking to privatize its prison system, and this facility was too expensive at $64 per inmate per day to run for a private investor to buy. The state shut down the facility and left it to decay. Today it sits empty, still in decent condition. Part of the chapel was destroyed by fire in 2017.
There were some work trucks present, so we started off by driving around the perimeter looking for a way to enter. e noticed that holes in the fence had been patched, and the grass had been mowed recently. The facility is now privately owned and there are plans to transform the property into a business park that would include warehouses and factories. According to a 2016 article, there were already several farmer tenants leasing land, but there was no evidence of that during our visit.
In 1995, six murder convicts all serving sentences for murder escaped through a tunnel they dug in the chapel on the property. They pried off a grate that covered a crawl space and then spent weeks sneaking in and taking shifts digging through muck and under the razor wire fence to freedom. Some sources report the tunnel was 45 feet, some report 60 feet. Usually officials are tipped off in advance by prison snitches when escapes are being planned, but authorities heard nothing about this plan before it was put into motion.
Before counts on a Monday evening, armed with shanks, they climbed through their tunnel to freedom. The mastermind attacked one inmate and left him for the officers to find first, which they did. They tripped an alarm and a tower officer saw the remaining five run into the sugar cane fields nearby where they probably hid out surrounded by snakes and being cut by razor sharp leaves.
The next two inmates were apprehended eight days later at a homeless camp, one was taken into custody and the other was shot and killed. Two homeless men that were staying there received a $20,000 reward for tipping off law enforcement to their location. The next was captured a day later by the police in Miami's Little Havana, the fifth was arrested in the same area later that week. The mastermind remained at large for 2 years before being captured in Mexico. All were given additional time on their sentences for the escape, the mastermind received the maximum of 30 years on top of his life sentence for murder.
Originally posted 12/08/2018
All photos used on this site are taken by myself.
For more photos or sources used for this article contact me.