Inmate Deaths Lead to Investigation—32 Guards Fired
In the wake of inmate deaths at seven prisons in Florida, the state’s Department of Corrections has conducted an investigation and terminated 32 guards. Department of Corrections Secretary Michael Crews told reporters that those terminated had been accused of either criminal misconduct or other wrongdoing.
The Florida penal system has received national attention in recent months after multiple requests that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of Darren Rainey, a mentally ill inmate in the Dade Correctional Institution in Miami. According to reports, Rainey was locked in a closet sized shower by guards and had near-boiling water poured over his body. He died two hour after the incident and medical examiners found that his skin had been separated from his body.
Howard Simon, executive director of Florida’s ACLU offices, asked Attorney General Holder to investigate, claiming that Florida officials were trying to cover up any details of Rainey’s death. Simon was joined in his request by Amnesty International, the Florida Council of Churches and a number of other human rights organizations.
According to Simon, Rainey’s death was consistent with a pattern of violence toward inmates in the Florida prison system, including reports of:
- Guards denying food to the point of nearly starving inmates to death
- Guards beating inmates unconscious while handcuffed
- Guards paying inmates to beat up other inmates
Simon also points to another pattern within the prison system—a pattern of trying to cover up inmate deaths. Public records indicate that neither the Florida Department of Corrections nor the Miami-Dade police department properly investigated the circumstances surrounding Rainey’s death.
Corrections Department Secretary Crews acknowledged that the department had not been consistently holding guards and other employees accountable for criminal acts or wrongful behavior.