Florida State Prison

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Florida State Prison (FSP), formerly known as the "Florida State Prison-East Unit" as it was originally part of Florida State Prison in Raiford, Florida (now known as Union Correctional Institution), is a correctional institution located in unincorporated Bradford County, Florida.[1] The facility, a part of the Florida Department of Corrections, is located on State Road 16 right across the border from Union County. The institution opened in 1961, even though construction was not completed until 1968. With a maximum population of over 1,400 inmates, FSP is one of the largest prisons in the state. FSP houses one of the state's three death row cell blocks, and the state's execution chamber. Union Correctional Institution also houses male death row inmates while Lowell Annex houses female death row inmates.

Lethal injection became the standard method of execution in 2000. The electric chair is still used, but only if the inmate requests it and was convicted during the time when the electric chair was the only execution method used.

FSP sits in the center of several other prisons. It is surrounded by New River Correctional Institution, New River O-Unit, FSP West Unit, and sits across the river from Union Correctional Institution. Even though Union Correctional Institution is on the same property, immediately north-west of FSP, the county line (with Union County) runs in between the two, which makes Raiford the United States Postal Service address city of Union Correctional Institution, while Starke is the USPS address city of Florida State Prison.

FSP is Florida's only prison that is officially named "prison", with the other institutions being named "Correctional Institutions" (or "Correctional Facility" if it is a privately contracted prison).


The death of Frank Valdes, a death row inmate, occurred on July 17, 1999.[2]

Notable inmates[edit]

  • Mark DeFriest—Mark DeFriest, known as the Houdini of Florida, is a prisoner of the United States. In 1980, 19-year-old DeFriest retrieved work tools his recently deceased father had willed him before the will officially went through probate. This act was considered theft despite the fact DeFriest did not have an understanding of probate laws. Mark’s stepmother called the police, which led to his arrest. DeFriest was sentenced to four years in prison. The original four-year sentence has since developed into 34 years for 13 escape attempts—seven of them successful—and hundreds of disciplinary reports for minor infractions. In 34 years, he’s collectively spent 27 of them in solitary confinement.

[1] A popular film The Life and Mind of Mark DeFriest details his story. As a result, a potential release date of March 2015 was established, but DeFriest also has outstanding sentences for marijuana and contraband possession. Today, he is still in prison, and may be for up to five more years to serve those outstanding sentences.



In popular culture[edit]

  • The Mind of Mark DeFriest The Mind of Mark DeFriest is a documentary film about Mark DeFriest, a man imprisoned by the State of Florida since 1980, who spent 27 of those years in solitary confinement. His original four year sentence, for taking his father's tools after his death, before they had been released to him by the court, and then fleeing the police, has been repeatedly extended due to numerous escape attempts, seven of which were successful, and because of infractions committed while in prison.[1][2][3]

“If I was a rapist or a murderer, they’d let me out,” DeFriest says in the film. “But I’m the idiot who made them look like idiots.”[4]

  • Lynyrd Skynyrd's song "Four Walls of Raiford" tells the story of a convict who escapes from the Florida State Prison; The convict is a veteran returning from the Vietnam War and pleads his case that he was wrongly convicted for armed robbery and asks to be buried with full honors if he gets caught.
  • In Spawn (comics): The Undead Issue #9, the story takes place in Florida State Penitentiary where a death row inmate encounters Spawn.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Florida State Prison". Florida Department of Corrections. Retrieved 2007-10-09. 
  2. ^ Brown, Julie K. "Prison death is one of several raising questions in Florida" (Archive). Miami Herald. June 14, 2014. Retrieved on June 28, 2014.
  3. ^ "Ted Bundy executed". Florida Department of Corrections. 
  4. ^ "Convicted child killer Couey dies in prison, Florida officials say". CNN. 2007-03-07. 
  5. ^ "Anti-abortion murderer executed in Florida". wsws.org. 
  6. ^ "Serial killer Danny Rolling executed". MSNBC. 
  7. ^ "Gerard Schaefer profile". TruTV. 
  8. ^ "John Arthur Spenkelink". Clark Prosecutor. 
  9. ^ "AMG Fugitives – Ottis Toole". America's Most Wanted. 
  10. ^ Bazar, Emily; Leinwand, Donna (2008-12-17). "Police ID killer of 'Most Wanted' host's son". USA Today. 
  11. ^ "Florida executes Wuornos". CNN. 2002-09-30. 
  12. ^ "Grossman executed". WTSP. 
  13. ^ Thalji, Jamal. "Oba Chandler executed for murdering Ohio mom, two daughters". St. Petersburg Times. 
  14. ^ "Spawn: The Undead #9". Comixology.com. 


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 30°03′31″N 82°11′08″W / 30.0585°N 82.1856°W / 30.0585; -82.1856