Prohibited Internet Access By Inmates Is Under Investigation

By on December 10th, 2014 | Last updated: December 10, 2014 at 2:08 pm

The Facebook page of Holmes Correctional Institution inmate, Pedro Bravo, has been active since his incarceration.

Bravo was found guilty on Aug. 15 and convicted of first-degree murder, as well as six other charges, following his trial for the murder of University of Florida student Christian Aguilar.

Bravo’s Facebook has been updated on three separate occasions since being sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole — his work title was changed to inmate at Florida Department of Corrections, his profile picture to a photo taken at the Alachua County Courthouse and an original poem was added.

Florida Department of Corrections press secretary McKinley Lewis said inmates don’t have access to the Internet or social media.

Once Bravo’s posts were brought to the Florida Department of Correction’s attention, it launched an investigation into the posts. According to Lewis, the department was able to confirm Bravo was not making the posts himself.

“His Facebook activity was a result of his father posting on behalf of him,” Lewis said. “[Bravo’s father] actually posted on the Facebook account while our correctional officers were watching the inmate.”

Bravo’s father complied with the department’s request that he post on the Facebook page himself to prove that he had the capability to do so. Only inmates enrolled in one of the Florida Department of Corrections’ educational programs have access to a computer.

Computers, however, are no longer alone in providing Internet access. Devices with Internet access, such as cellphones have become smaller, making them easier to smuggle into an institution.

All packages sent to an inmate go to a warehouse where they are thoroughly checked for prohibited items before they are delivered.

Jodi Lane, a criminology professor at UF who specializes in corrections, said although it’s unlikely, cellphones can be smuggled into an institution.

“They [inmates] can get them through visitors or can get them through officers,” Lane said. “Sometimes officers bring them in for trade for something else.”

Lane said a few things that make Internet access problematic in prison are gang communication, escape planning and inmates making money illegally.

In June, seven people including an inmate, relatives and friends  were charged with 10 counts of possession of contraband in a correctional facility for having cellphone access.

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By on December 10th, 2014 | Last updated: December 10, 2014 at 10:20 am
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Protesters In “Black Lives Matter” March Move For Inconvenience And Justice

By on December 9th, 2014 | Last updated: December 9, 2014 at 1:40 pm

Hundreds of people blocked off traffic at the intersection of University Avenue and 13th Street in Gainesville on Monday evening.

This is the first time this intersection has been shut down since 1972, according to Nailah Summers, protest organizer.

At 4:15 p.m., protestors gathered for a #BLACKLIVESMATTER March at the Martin Luther King Memorial Garden in downtown Gainesville, across from Bo Diddley Plaza.

Protestors, many of whom wore all black clothing and carried signs, walked about a mile from downtown to the intersection of University and 13th, blocking all west-bound traffic with their march.

The march was organized by the Dream Defenders and the University of Florida Students for a Democratic Society.

Brittany King, a Santa Fe junior and one of the march organizers, said that the march was about fighting the system.

“The purpose of the march was to have a sense of awakening here in Gainesville,” King said. “There’s a resounding ideal that things like this don’t affect this town.”

Gainesville’s Mayor Ed Braddy said 150 people initially turned out for the protest, but that number quickly grew to 200 as they marched down University Ave. singing and chanting phrases like, “I can’t breathe!,” “Black lives matter!”, and “No justice, no peace!”

Once the group reached the intersection, they blocked all four directions of traffic for 11 minutes—one minute for each time Eric Garner told the police that he could not breathe.

While the group did not notify the police about the event prior to the march, officers did show up as the group was gathering at the memorial gardens. Officers asked if the group wanted their help blocking off the street. One police car tailed the marchers, and others diverted traffic from the intersection.

One attendee, Alvarez Tarver, a St. Augustine resident who drove to Gainesville for the event, said that she came to the march prepared to get arrested and found the police presence to be peaceful, which had a negative effect on the march.

“I found that the action felt a bit domesticated,” Tarver said. “I felt like the cops allowed us to be there, whereas, speaking for myself obviously, I felt like the intention was to shut it down.”

Tarver also said that she was prepared to be an inconvenience during the march; she was prepared for someone to honk their horn at her.

Gainesville Police Dept. spokesman Ben Tobias said that he and the rest of the police department understand that these events come with heavy emotions and it is their responsibility to allow these emotions to be demonstrated.

“As a professional agency, we must protect and serve everyone, and allow others to protest peacefully,” said Tobias. Moreover, “it is our responsibility to give anyone and everyone a fair and even chance to protest as stated by their first amendment rights.”

Kayla Coleman, a Gainesville resident, agreed that she came to the march to inconvenience people.

“Black people being killed every day is an inconvenience to our lives,” Coleman said.

“Black people being on the lookout every day for police, being followed in stores, that is an inconvenience to our lives,” she said. “I was coming into that space with an attorney to be contacted, knowing that I might have to spend some hours in prison if that’s what it takes.”

Coleman also mentioned the diversity of people in attendance at the march and said that it is important to build a “coalition of all sorts of people.”

King said that the movement is gaining momentum and that people should expect more demonstrations. She said there’s a great opportunity for the communities in Gainesville to get involved.

“We can mobilize. We can get people involved. We can get them active,” King said.

“It’s about waking them up to the matter that this should be important to you. These are lives,” she said. “People’s lives should be important to you.”

After 11 minutes in the intersection, protestors moved to a nearby vacant lot. They ended the demonstration in a big, closed circle, chanting, “We have the duty to fight! We have the duty to win! We have the duty to love and protect each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.”

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By on December 9th, 2014 | Last updated: December 9, 2014 at 9:20 am
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In The News: Gainesville Man Holds Woman Captive, Court Martial Begins In Clearwater, Bush Refutes C.I.A. Report Claims, Historical Miami Shooting Sets Modern Precedent

By on December 8th, 2014 | Last updated: December 8, 2014 at 2:34 pm
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UF Welcomes McElwain At Press Conference Saturday

By on December 8th, 2014 | Last updated: December 8, 2014 at 1:06 pm


Jim McElwain, UF’s new head football coach, introduced himself and his family during a live-streamed press conference Saturday. He spoke about his offensive style and eagerness to get to know his players.

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By and on December 8th, 2014 | Last updated: December 8, 2014 at 12:39 pm



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New UF Football Coach Jim McElwain Welcomed at Press Conference

By and on December 6th, 2014 | Last updated: December 6, 2014 at 6:38 pm
Jim McElwain, the new UF head football coach, said he is looking forward to being involved in his players' lives during his press conference on Saturday, Dec.6.

Justin Galicz

Jim McElwain, the new UF head football coach, said he is looking forward to being involved in his players' lives during his press conference on Saturday, Dec.6.

For the first time as new head football coach at the University of Florida, Jim McElwain spoke at a press conference Saturday about what he will bring to the program, particularly about his offensive strategy and background.

Current UF president Bernie Machen took the stage first to welcome McElwain to the team.

“We have found a coach who we believe is exactly the right coach to lead us into the next era of Gator football,” said Machen.

“We spent a lot of hours researching and at the end of the day, Jim’s name kept coming up” said Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley, who had spent several days in Fort Collins this week finalizing the details on McElwain’s negotiations to leave Colorado State University and come to UF.

“He’s a winner and we are excited to have him and his family as Gators.”

McElwain, dressed in an orange tie and joined by his wife, Karen and their three children, expressed how excited he is to be a Gator and how he hopes to bring his experiences and coaching skills to the football team in a school that he says is known for its “tradition of winning.” “The first time I was actually in this state recruiting, that’s when I knew I wanted to be a Gator,” McElwain said.

McElwain spoke about how he wants to get the football offense up to game-winning standards, which was one of the qualities UF had been looking for in a coach. “They’ve got good coaches here, it just didn’t work…. It takes three faces. It isn’t just offense, it isn’t just defense, and it isn’t just special teams.”

McElwain said that he welcomes the atmosphere of pressure that comes with the position. “The one thing that I love is pressure. Now, I never look at it as feeling the pressure, I look at it as applying pressure and I’m excited about that part of it,” said McElwain. “If there’s no pressure, why wake up in the morning? That’s really what drives me anyway.”

McElwain said that he wants to produce a team that wins and wants the players to succeed. McElwain even joked that he can even win with his dog, Clara-A-Belle as quarterback, a comment that quickly garnered attention on social media.

McElwain said he has already met with the entire football staff to talk about new recruits for the next season and will be meeting with the players Monday. He plans to tell the team to “embrace what they’re doing. You’re Gators. Go win a bowl game.”

He said he does not have a timeline for hiring a new coaching staff but that his priority is finding a staff that is the best fit.

“I’m proud to be a Gator, and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

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Pictures: Tacky Sweater Holiday 5K

By on December 6th, 2014 | Last updated: December 6, 2014 at 3:02 pm

In the spirit of the holiday season, the University of Florida College of Medicine held a Tacky Sweater Holiday 5K on the UF campus Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014, at 8 a.m. UF students and residents of Gainesville and other nearby communities gathered for the event to run or walk the 3.1 miles in their most spirited holiday attire. Students from the UF College of Medicine volunteered to help with the event, some participating in the race. The overall winner of the 5K was 16-year-old Ryan Lauzardo of Gainesville High School, and the first place female was 21-year-old UF physical therapy doctoral student Abby Garner. The event was held to raise awareness and funding for the UF College of Medicine medical outreach trips. Each year, students travel to places like Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Ecuador and Nicaragua to provide free medical healthcare, health and hygiene education and medication.

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Afternoon News in 90: Dec. 5, 2014

By and on December 5th, 2014 | Last updated: December 6, 2014 at 10:21 am

Melissa Walpole produced this update.

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