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Florida Department of Corrections
Union County - State Prison - Florida
Florida State Prison

Status: Active, opened in 1961

Location: Raiford, Bradford County, Florida

Address: 23916 NW 83rd Ave., Raiford, Florida 32083

Mailing Address:

Florida State Prison
7819 N.W. 228th Street
Raiford, FL 32026-1000

Phone Number: 904-368-2500; inmates cannot receive phone calls           

Fax Number: 904-368-2732; inmates cannot receive faxes

Offender Gender: Male

Security Level: Maximum, Close, Medium, Minimum, Community

Warden: John Palmer

Number of Staff: 570

Distinguishing Feature:  Florida State Prison houses Florida’s death chamber and is one of three Florida prisons holding Florida’s death row inmates; male inmates are also held at nearby Union Correctional Institution and female inmates are at Lowell Annex. 

Florida State Prison has an enduring role in modern pop culture for several reasons.  First, it has been the prison where a number of the most infamous violent killers, including serial killers, have been executed or held prior to their execution.  The rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd wrote a song “Four Walls of Raiford,” about a former Vietnam War veteran wrongfully convicted of robbery who is incarcerated in Florida State Prison and then escapes.  The Spawn comic series features a story line with a death row inmate incarcerated at Florida State Penitentiary. The documentary film The Mind of Mark DeFriest details Mark DeFriest’s experience at Florida State Prison.  DeFriest was initially convicted of theft and sentenced to four years in prison, but has been incarcerated since 1980 because of numerous successful and unsuccessful escape attempts.  DeFriest has spent most of that time in solitary confinement and the documentary about his life has raised substantial questions about the fairness of Florida’s incarceration system. 

As DeFriest’s story makes clear, the inmate population at Florida State Prison is tremendously varied.  Housing death row inmates, Florida State Prison holds some of the most dangerous and violent criminals in the state.  A number of inmates are serving mandatory life decisions. These inmates are also considered to be very desperate because imposing sanctions for misbehavior in prison has little impact on them.  However, other inmates at Florida State Prison are under community supervision, which means that they have probably committed minor, non-violent offenses. 

Florida State Prison is surrounded by double rows of fencing, which are protected by guard dogs.  Inmates live in single cells, rather than the dormitories at other state prison facilities.  These cells are not air-conditioned.  Most of the inmates work in prison-jobs including laundry, prison-maintenance, and food preparation.  Inmates have more recreational time in the yard than they do at some of the state’s privately-run prisons, but Florida State Prison is still considered to be one of the harshest prisons in the state.  There are problems with gangs and violence, which seem to be part of prison life, especially in higher-security institutions and understaffing issues means that inmates who feel vulnerable may resort to self-help violence or turn to other inmates, specifically gangs, for protection.  This behavior only perpetuates the violent atmosphere in the prison.  However, individual inmate danger depends on security level and the inmates surrounding him or her.

One of the most notable things about Florida State Prison is the absence of any alcohol or drug abuse treatment programs in the prison, despite the prison holding a number of offenders who committed drug-related offenses.  Prisoners struggling with addictions can participate in self-help groups targeting addiction.  The prison does offer a substantial amount of educational programming.  Depending on a prisoner’s supervision designation, he may be able to participate in: adult basic education, continuing education, general educational development, inmate teaching assistant program, or special educational services.  The prison does not currently have any vocational programs.  The prison offers a wide assortment of religious programs.  These include: anger management programs, awareness program, worship services, religious education, chapel library programs, personal growth program, spiritual advisor visits, special events, holy day observation, volunteer program, and religious TV reception.  The prison also offers a variety of self-help/ institutional betterment programs, including: 100-hour transition program, Alcoholics Anonymous, anger and stress management, career scope assessment, choices career planner, Fresh Start Smoking Cessation, law library program, library program, Narcotics Anonymous, Ready to Work, social skills, weight training, and wellness education. 

Florida State Prison was once the East Unit of the larger Union Correctional Institution part of the original Florida State Prison.  It was built in 1961 and contains the state’s death chamber.  In 1973, the facility was split into two prisons and the East Unit became known as Florida State Prison. 

Florida State Prison is currently the home to, has been home to, or has been the place of execution for some of the most notorious criminals in the entire nation.    The most infamous of these criminals are probably: the serial killer Ted Bundy, who confessed to over 30 murders; serial killer Aileen Wuornos, who was considered one of the first modern female serial killers to be acting without a male partner and whose story was portrayed in the film Monster; child molester and murder John Couey, whose extensive criminal history prior to the murder sparked a change in sentencing laws; and Ottis Toole, a serial killer who was the accomplice to Henry Lee Lucas and who confessed to the murder of Adam Walsh. 

Locate an Inmate

Florida’s VINE  VINE, the Victim Information and Notification Everyday system provides automated updates to victims about inmate status.   

Visit an Inmate   This link provides a gateway to visitor information for the entire Florida Department of Corrections, including the application that must be completed and approved prior to the first visitation. 

Visitation Hours:

Saturday, Sunday, Holidays 9:00am - 3:00 pm
*registration begins 8:15am

You must fill out visitor application before you will be approved for visits.  Inmates will be provided with applications to send to visitors.

Send Money to an Inmate   Inmates can receive money for deposit in their inmate trust accounts in several different ways: online, through mobile applications, using walk-in services, via money order deposit, and over the phone.   

Receive Calls from an Inmate


Year Built or Opened: 1961 Warden or Supervisor: Warden John Palmer Daily Inmate Count: 1,257 Total Capacity: 1,460 Security Level(s): minimum - maximum

P.O. Box 800
Raiford, Fl. 32083

Phone Number(s): 904-368-2500
Fax Number: 904-368-2732
Email Address: [email protected]

23916 NW 83rd Ave.
Raiford, Florida 32083

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