Rally targets prison reform in Florida

Photo of the families, lawyers, and representatives who came in support of the rally courtesy: Cynthia Frage

Marsha McIntyre-Lowe hosted a rally at the Capitol Thursday to demand justice for the victims of medical neglect within the Florida Department of Corrections. McIntyre-Lowe says her son is a victim of medical neglect causing him to suffer due to two misdiagnoses that led to unnecessary castration and severe brain lesions.

Cameron McIntyre was top 10 in his class and attended Bethune-Cookman University on three scholarships during the time of his arrest in 2017.

He was a heart of gold, would never hurt anybody and the reason why he was in there was because his best friend was murdered. He did not do it … he was just in the car,”  McIntyre-Lowe said.

Camerons story

While Cameron was waiting for his trial in the Duval County Jail he called McIntyre-Lowe and told her he wasn’t feeling well after receiving a tuberculosis shot due to an outbreak in the prison.

After receiving this call from her son, another inmate contacted her to let her know that her son had collapsed. She rushed to the jail but they wouldn’t answer her questions about her son.

Cameron was moved to Wakulla Correctional Institution where his health continued to deteriorate. After finally being able to see her son McIntyre-Lowe reported that he went from 180 to 98 pounds.

Cameron then reported to his mother that he found a lump on his testicle which was ruled a sexually transmitted disease. He was finally taken to a hospital where the doctor said the lump was cancerous. He was castrated without her permission but weeks later the doctor called and told her that it was not cancer but rather the lump was caused by the spreading of tuberculosis.

He was a healthy young man. Just recently my son had an eight-minute seizure causing him to fall out of the prison hospital bed again due to the negligence of the medical assistance,” McIntyre-Lowe said during the rally.

Cameron is now paralyzed on the right side of his body and has numerous lesions on his brain. I hope to see my son being released on compassionate medical release. We requested that he be granted medical release but it was denied we found out last week that the doctor initiated another medical release so we are praying and hoping that one goes through so my son can see the specialist he needs,” McIntyre-Lowe said.

Michaels story

Another family attended the rally to bring awareness to their son Michael Planes who is also an alleged victim of medical negligence.

Planes were arrested in 2016 for stealing a Jacksonville sheriff officer’s car and equipment.

What he did was wrong but once he got into the system I thought he was going to get rehabilitated,” said Rhonda Planes, Michaels mother. Did he go to prison, yes, but I was not expecting him to come out like that.”

Michael Planes was an inmate in the Lake Butler prison before transferring to Memorial Hospital to be treated for multiple injuries. Michael suffered blows to the head and fractured ribs after being beaten by the guards in the Florida Department of Corrections, according to his mother.

They sent him to a better prison and I trusted them thinking he was going to get better and they wouldn’t let me see him. It looked like they left him there and let him rot. There are other inmates that are there without loved ones and it makes me wonder what they look like. My god even animals get treated better,” his mother said.

Michael is now in a vegetative state with infections to his legs. We were told by the doctors that they wanted to amputate his legs. He doesn’t need his legs amputated. There is a reason why they wanted this done before the family could see him,” said Keith R. Harris, the defense investigator for Michaels case.

Despite Michaels choices his mother says out of her four children he was the most respectful. All of his teachers said, ‘We love Michael, he is very brilliant,’” she said.

Call to action

Many families and representatives came in support of the rally. Representative Angie Nixon represents Duval County and has been fighting for police reform in the state.

Folks that make mistakes and happen to get caught up, according to the prisons, are not supposed to be treated like first, second, or third-class citizens. They are treated inhumanely,” Nixon said.

In 2022, the Florida Legislature funded the Florida prison system with $5 million after the results of a state-commissioned audit found that Floridas prison system was unsustainable.

I just found out that there is a lack of AC and inmates are drinking contaminated water. Myself and many of the reps that stand here have time and time again filed legislation to address many of these issues. Everyone should be treated with decency, respect and dignity,” Nixon said.

75% of all housing units lack air-conditioning, according to a report released by KPMG, the company the Florida Department of Corrections hired to provide audit, tax, and advisory services for prisons.

The Florida Department of Corrections is at a tipping point. They are short-staffed and an audit was done… Meanwhile, the inmates trusted to their care are not getting the medical care they deserve, they are ending up in the state Michael is in,” said Robert Slama, the attorney on Michaels case.

The Planes family calls for the governor to take a look at not just the facilities but the leadership and management. They call for the removal of Secretary Ricky Dixon, the secretary of the Florida Department of Corrections, and call for someone better to manage the largest institution in the state of Florida.

Hope from families

I hope a change happens in the law. We have a panel of people who don’t even work for the state of Florida making these decisions without doing research. They see a charge and go oh murder” without looking at the transcript to see he isn’t a threat to society or anyone,”  McIntyre-Lowe said.