DOCUMENT: Investigation

Jailers Allowed Same-Sex Inmate Wedding

Women in 'elaborate' ceremony; rings made of hair, dental floss

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Jailers Allowed Same-Sex Inmate Wedding

OCTOBER 26--A group of Florida corrections officers allowed two female inmates to wed earlier this year in an elaborate same-sex ceremony presided over by a fellow convict, according to a newly released investigative report.

The St. Patrick's Day ceremony at the Lowell Correctional Facility resulted in the suspension of six corrections officers, the firing of one guard, and the resignation of another, according to a Department of Corrections inspector general's report, a copy of which you'll find here.

The same-sex ceremony occurred in the prison's 'Close Management Unit' and featured a wedding cake, pink bows fashioned from prison forms, and one bride wearing a makeshift bridal veil, investigators reported. The cake was topped with figures of two women.

A review of prison surveillance tape revealed that the 6:15 PM wedding began with one bride exiting a cell with a flower bouquet in her arms. The bride was accompanied down the stairs by another inmate, who apparently was giving her away. They 'proceeded down the stairs to the center of the quad' where they were met by the other bride. After a ten-minute ceremony, the newlyweds--who were not allowed to kiss--cut the wedding cake, while other inmates began dancing. IG interviews of inmates and guards determined that the cake was made from canteen items donated by fellow inmates and that rings exchanged were fashioned from dreadlock hair and dental floss.

The report, which does not include the names of any inmates, notes that one of the brides, when interviewed by IG personnel, could not recall which corrections officers were present for the ceremony because 'she was so nervous about getting married.'

Sgt. Jennifer Thomas, who resigned over the incident, told investigators that imprisoned 'males do this all the time and homosexuality was going to happen.' She added that the IG was focusing on the ceremony because it was a 'homosexual incident.' (12 pages)