mark flowers
IN HOT WATER — Volusia County Corrections Director Mark Flowers speaks to the Volusia County Council in February. Flowers is accused of creating a hostile work environment and ordering the abuse of inmates at the county jail. He denies the accusations, and describes them as retaliation for his attempts to point out wrongdoing in the Corrections Department.

More than four months after he was relieved of duty and placed on administrative leave, Mark Flowers is now officially out as Volusia County’s director of corrections.

“The purpose of this memorandum is to provide you notice of your dismissal from employment with the County of Volusia,” Public Protection Director Mark Swanson wrote to Flowers in the letter dated Jan. 6.

The written notice came two weeks and a day after Flowers and his attorney, Kelly Chanfrau, met behind closed doors with Swanson and other county officials to make a final appeal to keep the post he has held since 2017. The Dec. 22 meeting followed from Swanson’s Dec. 7, 2022, issuance of his intention to terminate Flowers. 

Swanson’s decision to fire Flowers came after two internal investigations had concluded he, Flowers, had violated departmental policies and regulations regarding the treatment of inmates in the jail and had created a hostile work environment for staffers. The county’s own probes of Flowers and his supervision of the Department of Corrections came in response to complaints brought by corrections officers and command staffers against him. Flowers was placed on administrative leave with pay on Aug. 15.

Chanfrau has not returned phone calls from The Beacon regarding her client.

“These investigations resulted in findings that you engaged in instances of mismanagement as well as on-going violations of VCDC policies,” Swanson also wrote.

Referring to the county’s Merit System Rules and Regulations, Swanson listed five headings of Flowers’ alleged failings:

— “Willful neglect in the performance of the duties … assigned”

— “Disregard for or frequent violations of county ordinances, departmental policies and regulations, including safety rules”

— “Any conduct, on or off duty, that interferes with effective job performance or has an adverse effect on the county”

— “Incompetent or unsatisfactory performance of duties”

— “Any other conduct or action of such seriousness that disciplinary action is considered warranted.”

Swanson recounted the case of the “four-pointed” restraint of an inmate, meaning his hands and feet were tied down, while he was face down and immobile, as allegedly ordered by Flowers. Flowers, according to the termination letter, had said a physician had approved the four-pointing, but that medical doctor told investigators he had not approved the procedure. 

“Even if you have not engaged in any misconduct,” Swanson wrote, “it is apparent that you have lost the confidence of most, if not all, of your command staff and many of the corrections officers. … While I recognize that you now claim that members of the command staff are incompetent and need to be fired, it is important to note that you were the one who promoted them into command positions.”

Swanson closed by noting “there are confidence and trust issues between you and Corrections staff,” telling Flowers he is “unable to lead the Corrections Division going forward.”

Flowers’ “dismissal is effective the date of your receipt of this letter.” 

Flowers was an at-will employee of the county, meaning he serves at the pleasure of his superiors, notably Swanson and County Manager George Recktenwald. The standard civil-service protection and status given to rank-and-file county personnel do not apply to upper-level officials, such as department heads.



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