Florida prisons fired guards throughout the state in response to reports of abuse and corruption within the state’s prison system. Reports indicate that 32 guards were placed on administrative leave as a review was launched this summer, and it seems the Department of Corrections is determined to clean up the state’s system. Multiple prisons were targeted in the investigation, and a number of inmate’s deaths sparked complaints, allegations, and outrage.
According to CBS Miami, federal investigations, whistleblower complaints and reports of corruption and abuse have led to the effort by Florida prisons to fire guards. Included in the 32 guards dismissed were three guards from the Franklin Correctional Institution. Kevin Hampton, Randall Johnson and Rollin Austin were said to be involved in the gassing death of Randall Jordan-Aparo four years ago.
None of the fired guards have been arrested or charged with anything, however. In addition to the three fired for the Jordan-Aparo incident, nine of the Florida prison fired guards were from the Charlotte Correctional Institution. It is alleged that they were involved in the April incident that led to Matthew Walker’s death. Walker was allegedly beaten while he was handcuffed and he died of his injuries.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is now investigating 80 inmate deaths. As MSN notes, Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Michael Crews is on a mission to clean up the system. All of the Florida prisons’ fired guards were accused of wrongdoing or criminal misconduct related to inmate deaths. Four different prisons were involved. It seems that Darren Rainey’s death, in particular, spurred the efforts and firings.
Darren Rainey, a mentally ill prisoner, died in 2012. Rainey died after he was allegedly forced by guards to take a shower in scalding hot water. Reports indicate that he had been locked into a closet-sized shower as a punishment. When he was found a couple of hours later, he was dead and his skin had separated from his body. The water in the shower was reportedly 180 degrees. The Dade Correctional Institution in Miami was accused of covering up what happened to Rainey.
The American Civil Liberties Union wrote a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder asking for an investigation into Rainey’s death. They believe that this is about more than simply prison guard incompetence and they allege a lot has been done to cover up the inmate’s deaths. Crews says that the department has not been consistent in staff accountability and it undermines the integrity of the system.
Whether Crews’ efforts to tackle the corruption and abuse will lead to more Florida prisons firing guards remains to be seen. However, it does seem clear that after multiple complaints and investigations the situation is being taken seriously.
[Image via Canada Journal]