Last week CL reported
on the troubling state of privatized health care in Florida's correctional facilities. Now the ACLU and a host of other organizations want the feds to investigate the disturbing scalding death of a mentally ill Miami area prisoner and the mistreatment of other mentally ill inmates at Florida jails and prisons.
Specifically, the groups want the Department of Justice to investigate what happened to Darren Rainey, a mentally ill prisoner who was left in a closet-size shower stall at the Dade Correctional Institution (DCI), a facility of the Florida Department of Corrections (DOC), as a form of punishment. Mr. Rainey was left unattended there, and after approximately two hours of being blasted with scalding hot water with temperatures that were later measured as high as 180 degrees, he was found dead — his skin separated from his body.
“After two years, no one has been held accountable, and indeed it appears that no one will be held accountable for the death of Darren Rainey, unless an investigation is conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice," the letter sent to Attorney General Eric Holder states.
The Florida Justice Institute, Amnesty International, the Florida Council of Churches, and the Florida Conference of NAACP Branches also signed on to the letter, which says in part:
Darren Rainey’s death is one of seven Florida prison deaths now under scrutiny. But particularly because Florida corrections officials and other agencies have gone to such lengths to avoid an investigation that could hold someone accountable for his death, we urge the U.S. Department of Justice to explore the need for an investigation of the death of Darren Rainey, allegations that scalding hot showers are or have been used as a form of punishment on other mentally ill inmates as well as other forms of inappropriate punishment..”
Last month the Miami Herald's
Julie Brown reported on a complaint filed by George Mallinckrodt, a psychotherapist assigned to the psychiatric unit at DCI from 2008 to 2011. In addition to reporting on what happened to Rainey, he 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. The Herald
reports that 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.
Mallinckrodt was employed by Corizon Health Inc., the private company contracted to provide mental health services at the prison. After reporting the incident with Swilling, he was was laid off by Corizon.