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Lopez reports: "According to the Herald, three former employees of the psychiatric unit at Dade Correctional Institution have alleged that staff at the facility were tormenting and abusing mentally-ill inmates for years."

(photo: file)
(photo: file)


Florida Prison Accused of Boiling Mentally-Ill Inmate Alive, Security Cameras "Malfunctioned" During Incident

By Ashley Lopez, Florida Center for Investigative Reporting

23 May 14

 

new investigative report from The Miami Herald this week profiles a prison in Miami-Dade County where employees have been accused of abusing mentally-ill inmates for “sport.”

According to the Herald, three former employees of the psychiatric unit at Dade Correctional Institution have alleged that staff at the facility were tormenting and abusing mentally-ill inmates for years. One of the former employees took their complaints to the U.S. Department of Justice last month.

The Herald reports:

In his complaint, George Mallinckrodt, a psychotherapist assigned to the unit from 2008 to 2011, related a series of episodes, including the death of inmate Darren Rainey. The 50-year-old was placed in a small, enclosed, scalding-hot shower by guards and left unattended for more than an hour. He collapsed and died amid the searing heat, suffering severe burns when he fell, face up, atop the drain.

His death, for which no one has been held accountable, was described in Sunday’s Miami Herald.

Mallinckrodt was no longer with the prison at the time of Rainey’s scalding on June 23, 2012, but says he was told of the incident by a former colleague who remained on staff.

Here is a description of his death published in the Herald a few days earlier – also via reporter Julie Brown:

The purported details of Darren Rainey’s last hour are difficult to read.

“I can’t take it no more, I’m sorry. I won’t do it again,’’ he screamed over and over, according to a grievance complaint from a fellow inmate, as Rainey was allegedly locked in a shower with the scalding water turned on full blast.

A 50-year-old mentally ill inmate at the Dade Correctional Institution, Rainey was pulled into the locked shower by prison guards as punishment after defecating in his cell and refusing to clean it up, said the fellow inmate, who worked as an orderly. He was left there unattended for more than an hour as the narrow chamber filled with steam and water.

When guards finally checked on prisoner 060954, he was on his back and dead. His skin was so burned that it had shriveled from his body, a condition referred to as slippage, according to a medical document involving the death.

But nearly two years after Rainey’s death on June 23, 2012, the Miami-Dade medical examiner has yet to complete an autopsy and Miami-Dade police have not charged anyone. The Florida Department of Corrections halted its probe into the matter, saying it could be restarted if the autopsy and police investigation unearth new information.

This delay in justice is what prompted Mallinckrodt to contact the Herald in April, Brown wrote.

According to the Herald, interviews with former employees show the prison guards “made ‘sport’ of agitating the mentally ill inmates, hoping for an excuse to beat or otherwise punish them.”

One current corrections officer at the facility, who spoke to the Herald on condition of anonymity, said prisoners in the mental health unit who caused trouble were threatened by guards with the shower treatment.

In his letter, Mallinckrodt said that guards “taunted, tormented, abused, beat, and tortured chronically mentally ill inmates on a regular basis,” hoping to provoke a response so the inmates could then be punished. He described specific incidents of alleged abuse, including the beating of inmate Joseph Swilling, a longtime criminal who showed Mallinckrodt his injuries during an anger management session.

Swilling said guards handcuffed him behind his back and led him into a hallway out of range of video cameras, where they threw him on the floor and repeatedly kicked him.

A murderer who hung himself in the unit last September, Richard Mair, left a suicide note in his shorts accusing guards of sexually abusing inmates and forcing black and white inmates to fight each other for the entertainment of staff.

Mallinckrodt said he filed a variety of complaints with the prison and the Department of Corrections’ inspector general about the abusive treatment, but never received a response. He said he also took his concerns directly to Warden Jerry Cummings.

… The past and present employees described a litany of issues in the mental health unit at the prison, located south of Homestead at 19000 SW 377th St. They said prisoners were beaten or deprived of food at the whim of guards and that inmates would defecate in their cells in protest or break sprinklers in hopes of being charged and sent to the county jail.

Mallinckrodt worked at the prison as an employee of a contracted mental health services company called Corizon Health Inc. However, he was fired two months after he reported a beating at the facility. According to the Herald, his company ‘told him he was being let go because he took long lunches and too many breaks.”

Brown writes the Herald has requested copy of the audit by the American Correctional Association, but the state has not provided it. The Herald also asked the Florida Department of Corrections for the personnel files of three guards accused of wrongdoing. Those files have not been released.

The newspaper has also requested footage from the prisons cameras and other public records. However, according to the Herald, “the inspector general cited a ‘malfunction’ making it impossible to view what happened after corrections officer Roland Clarke placed Rainey in the shower.”

The paper was told emails regarding Rainey’s death could take about six months to turn over.

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+36 # CAMUS1111 2014-05-23 18:06
I bet Cheney et al would approve....
 
 
+3 # dquandle 2014-05-23 23:20
As would ram-fithy-"feed ing-tube"s-up-t heir-noses-and- down-their-thro ats Obama.
 
 
+51 # tigerlillie 2014-05-23 21:00
Those prison guards are on the wrong side of the bars. Heartbreaking to read this article.
 
 
+11 # DaveM 2014-05-23 21:57
Give the internal door keys to the prisoners, lock the gates, and let the matter resolve itself. The sad irony is that the prisoner would almost certainly not act with the same cruelty their tormentors have--and continue to--with impunity.

"People" such as this who are fond of dispensing punishment and cruelty without the faintest pretense of due process ought to receive the same consideration. Scald one of the guards to death on orders of their superiors, and let's see how they treat the prisoners afterwards. Make them draw straws to see who gets the boiling shower.
 
 
+25 # shraeve 2014-05-23 22:21
The problem is not with the prison guards. Every prison has guards, some of whom have tendencies to inhumane behavior. But that inhumane behavior is more or less held in check by regulations based ultimately in the Bill of Rights.

But the Bill of Rights does not exist for psychiatric patients. The guardians of a "mentally ill" person can do almost anything to that person and label it "treatment". Case in point: a child was killed by suffocation in an attempt to cure some kind of an "attachment disorder". Another example: when the air-conditionin g failed in one prison, several inmates died because psychiatric drugs interfered with their bodies' ability to regulate temperature.

The life expectancy of a psychiatric patient is decades less than average, and psychiatric drugs are suspected of being a major factor.
 
 
+34 # reo100 2014-05-23 23:29
How sick is this? I am surprised these prisoners were not shot and killed under Florida's "Stand your ground" instead. I for one, am appalled that the State or US Government has done nothing thus far. What have we become as a society to allow this?
 
 
+45 # Billy Bob 2014-05-23 23:31
I worked in a mentally handicapped facility in Stinkwater, TX. It was so corrupt that it was actually investigated by 20/20.

I've seen this kind of bullshit first hand, and it's probably why I get so rabidly angry about Abu Graib, to this day.

ARROGANCE is a mental disorder, and it's probably the most dangerous thing on Earth. If a person is arrogant, he/she is capable of ANY atrocity.
 
 
+30 # Richard1908 2014-05-24 01:13
In Australia, one incident like this would prompt calls for a "Royal Commission", the highest ranking, investigative authority in the country.
The number of incidents involving perverted use of authority by thugs in charge of institutions in America leaves the rest of the world shocked almost beyond belief. I don't know what Americans think, but these sorts of things simply do not happen in the civilised world.
 
 
+1 # Geoffrey Baraclough 2014-05-24 05:59
Oh please, Australia has plenty of its own shamelessness.. . let's not get too smug about any one country.
 
 
+1 # Diane_Wilkinson_Trefethen_aka_tref 2014-05-24 13:31
Quoting Geoffrey Baraclough:
Oh please, Australia has plenty of its own shamelessness... let's not get too smug about any one country.


With "plenty" of shamelessness to choose from, perhaps you could enlighten us with a few specific, properly cited examples?
 
 
+2 # rhgreen 2014-05-24 19:09
It's good to hear that about Australia. I have an attachment to Oz that goes back 49 years, including in-laws and close friends. But re. treatment of natives the sort of thing that happens routinely Down Under, without any major fuss, couldn't happen in Canada. Canada, like Australia, has a right-wing federal govt. If you switched Tony Abbott and Stephen Harper you'd have no real difference. But I think Canada has more laws, including treaties, with its native people so there is more recourse to the courts to block government greed, stupidity & racism. As for the US (which signs treaties but doesn't honour them unless it feels like it), Canada has always been better in its treatment of natives (which is why so many fled to Canada). The US is worse than most of the world (a) in locking people up, (b) in how people are treated while locked up (especially mentally challenged folk and minorities), and (c) in killing (executing) them - especially in the southern US states. So in the end I have to agree - the US is a less civilized country than others in the developed world, including Australia and Canada. Just check the statistics on health care, life expectancy, literacy, knowledge about & respect for other countries, religious fundamentalism accompanied by intentional scientific ignorance, incarceration rate, death penalty use, and - if you like – how incompetently state execution of people is carried out. At least Australia is further away.
 
 
+9 # Kootenay Coyote 2014-05-24 08:10
Obviously a horrific, monstrous place & staff, a grand palace of barbarism.
 
 
+9 # angelfish 2014-05-24 09:16
Heartbreaking and horrific. These people have FEW advocates and it is so sad to hear that the "guards" are sicker than the inmates. I fervently hope that this is addressed by the Federal Government and that this Torture Facility is CLOSED before anymore tragedies like this occur again. Power DOES corrupt and absolute power, which these "guards" evidently have, corrupts SOME, absolutely. They need to do better psychological screening of their Staff and weed out the sadists. In reality, because these inmates are on the lower rung of the Care and Concern Scale, we see that not much has been done or is likely TO be done to address this. SO sad, sick and immoral beyond belief!
 
 
+7 # jwb110 2014-05-24 12:11
contracted mental health services company called Corizon Health Inc.

Out sourcing these facilities allows for no oversight by government officials. This movement to outsourcing in the US is creating Dickensian conditions. Out sourcing doesn't save the citizenry one dime of tax dollars. It merely shuffles our same tax dollars into the hands of private enterprises. This goes the way of everything from prisons, to mental health facilities, to the NSA. We have seen how the NSA thing is working out, so why not all the others.
 
 
+1 # socrates2 2014-05-24 19:07
The Founders, slave-owners themselves, understood intimately the sadistic and revenge impulses in the human brain. They also understood that too much power in any one man or group would lead to abuses. Hence, the separation of powers. Sadly, these bureaucratic, organized, behind-closed-d oors establishments have no such three-part _safeguards_ for the defeated and vulnerable souls that fall into their clutches and absolute control.
I expect no less from individuals who can't seem to get, or find, a better job than guards. It's way too easy to misdirect their anger, personal despair and frustration on those under their care.
Can't folks see this coming? As I said, this phenomenon was well understood by 1789...
Be well.
 

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