9 Investigates prison guards facing criminal charges



ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - 9 Investigates looks into state prison guards who are facing serious criminal charge that are so serious they could end up in the same prisons they supervise.

Channel 9's Mario Boone uncovered records that show an alarming number of those guards are kept on the job.

In April Channel 9 reported on former state prison guard Keaston Hooks, who was kept on the job for weeks after his arrest following accusations that he brutally beat Tyree Jones. The alleged beating left Jones in a hospital for three days.

Hooks was eventually fired after Channel 9 began asking questions about the incident.

"I feel like if Channel 9 had not gotten involved (Hooks) probably would still be on the job today," said Jones mother, Anita Jenkins.

At the time Jenkins said she could not understand why the Florida Department of Corrections kept her son's alleged attacker in a position of authority.

She said she was shocked to learn Hooks isn't the only Florida prison guard with legal issues.

Boone found that in the first quarter of 2014, 33 DOC prison guards were arrested and at least 13 are still on the job. Some of those guards even received pay raises following their arrests.

"I just don't understand how a felon can police felons," said Jenkins.

Boone took a four-page list of pending charges against guards, including stalking and aggravated battery, to WFTV legal expert Bill Sheaffer.

"If some of these prison guards were convicted of the crimes that they're charged with they could literally spend decades behind bars," said Sheaffer.

For a month Boone tried to get DOC officials to respond to his question about the guards, but no one at the department would return his calls.

Boone drove the two hours to Bradford County to confront DOC representative Jessica Cary about the issue, but she wouldn't respond to his questions.

"They're definitely going to be jeopardizing the security and safety of the facility," retired corrections officer Timothy Story told Boone.

Story served spent 25 years in the corrections department.

"I wouldn't pick any of them to be on my squad, to tell you the truth," said Story.

Boone found that in some of the cases the charges were dropped and others are still pending.

He learned that the DOC typically waits for cases to go through the court system before determining disciplinary action.