Gulf correctional officer honored at virtual vigil

Correctional Officer Jack Stewart, who worked at Gulf
Correctional Institution in Wewahitchka, passed away Feb. 13 in the line of duty, his
death attributed to COVID-19.

On  Friday evening, May 14, One Voice United, a
national organization elevating the profession and growing the voices of
corrections officers and staff in the criminal justice reform conversation, hosted
a virtual vigil where they read Stewart’s name, and 23 other corrections
officers and non-custody employees who died of COVID-19 in Florida while
reporting for duty. 

In an average year, 11 corrections officers lose their lives
in the line of duty. This year, at least 219 corrections officers and 41
non-custody employees died in the line of duty from COVID-19, including 24
officers and staff in Florida.

The count is based on news and social media reports and
gathered and verified by a national organization advocating for corrections
officers in criminal justice reform. Over the same period, across the country,
more than 325,000 incarcerated people contracted the virus and 2,752 have

One Voice was joined at the vigil by national labor leaders
including Mary Kay Henry, international president, SEIU, and Liz Shuler,
secretary-treasurer, AFL-CIO.

In a news release, One Voice wrote that over the past year,
correctional officers and staff showed up as frontline essential workers while
too often lacking the proper Personal Protective Equipment, hazard pay, and
medical safety measures to protect themselves and incarcerated individuals from

“Their work, often unnoticed and unrecognized by the general
public, carried deadly risks borne by countless essential workers across the
country,” it read. “Throughout the pandemic, One Voice United has consistently
pushed  local, state and federal policymakers to provide the supplies and
guidance that correctional officers and staff need to protect themselves and
incarcerated people from COVID-19.”

Founded in 2016, One Voice United describes itself
as “a national initiative that seeks to forge a path in which corrections staff
and reform leaders can work together to ensure that our system of incarceration
is rooted in human dignity and is safe and effective for the general public,
incarcerated individuals, visitors, service providers and, in particular,

“The primary objectives of One Voice are to: help national
reform leaders and policy makers understand that investing in corrections staff
is a key ingredient in transforming the conditions of confinement; expand the
reform agenda to include the voices, priorities and concerns of frontline
staff; and engage corrections staff and law enforcement in the national reform
conversation, give them a seat at the table and provide an opportunity for them
to become advocates for a sustainable approach to incarceration,” read the

Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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