Prison guard accused of putting bleach in Florida inmate's food
A Florida prison guard was arrested Saturday after she allegedly poured bleach on an inmate's food tray after earlier arguing with the prisoner, according to the Associated Press. Qualesha Williams, a 28-year-old correctional officer at Lowell Correctional Institution, admitted in an interview with a corrections inspector that she poured a cleaning agent into a cup but she said she never intentionally tried to hurt anyone, the news service reported. “If I say I was trying to maintain my quad do I get to keep job cause God knows I was and never will ever hurt anyone,” Williams allegedly wrote in a note to the inspector that The Gainesville Sun reported.
Williams was taken to Marion County Jail, where she was booked and later released, according to The Gainsville Sun. Williams allegedly volunteered to serve inmates in lower prison cells food before video footage showed the prison guard arguing with the inmate, inspector Michael Green told the newspaper. The woman had used derogatory language with Williams when she told the inmate: "I got something for you," according to an inspector report The Gainesville Sun obtained. Video the newspaper obtained reportedly showed Williams picking up the inmate's food tray, bringing it to her cell and placing it and a cup inside a port box while later trying to hide her work at a food cart near the inmate's cell, the newspaper reported. When the prisoner received her tray, she reported smelling “a strong odor of bleach,” which Williams allegedly ignored but another officer noticed and reported to a lieutenant. No one was injured in the incident, as the inmate was allowed to get a new tray of food, according to The Gainesville Sun.
Florida prisons have faced recent media scrutiny after repeated problematic incidents were made public. In an encounter last August, Cheryl Weimer, an already disabled 51-year-old woman, was beaten in an attack that left her paralyzed allegedly at the hands of four guards at Lowell prison. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is still investigating the incident, and one of the prison guards, Lt. Keith Turner, was fired after being accused of unrelated sexual offenses, The Gainesville Sun reported.
Former inmates at the prison protested conditions Sunday after learning of the accusation Williams is facing, Fox 35 reported. “It's not right,” Takeya Hatcher, a former prisoner at the facility told the news station. “We're standing for a cause and we're gonna continue to do it until something is done about it.”