At least four female inmates have died under suspicious circumstances at a Florida women’s prison this year, and secret letters by inmates allege cruelty and an ongoing gang war between guards, the Miami Herald is reporting.
Michelle Tierney, 48, who had 14 years and was scheduled to be released shortly after the new year, died after being transported to an area hospital. Her family alleged that she had been in poor health for some time, and that officials at Lowell Correctional Institution had ignored her pleas for help. Doctors allegedly told the family that when she arrived her feet were blue, she was in septic shock, and she had pneumonia, according to Opposing Views.
Tierney’s death came less than a week after another Lowell inmate, Latandra Ellington, died under suspicious circumstances. Ten days earlier, Latandra had written to her family that she feared for her life in Lowell prison, and that she feared one guard in particular.
“He was gone [sic] beat me to death and mess me like a dog. He was all in my face Sqt. Q then he grab his radio and said he was gone bust me in my head with it.”
She was later found dead in a segregation cell, and her cause of death remains undetermined as of this post. Her family hired a private autopsy, and their lawyer says that she was found with signs of blunt force trauma to her abdomen — signs consistent with being beaten.
Workers at the Lowell prison secretly provided letters to the Miami Herald, written by inmates. The inmates refused to give their names, out of fear of retribution from the guards. In the letters, they allege that groups of guards are involved in a gang war, and that the prisoners are used as pawns. Two of the letters provide the guards’ last names, and describe how two cliques of guards vie for control of the prison.
“It was almost like a gang.”
Other Lowell Prison inmates allege that the guards beat them for their amusement, sexually abuse them, and have even killed prisoners and convinced the authorities that the deaths were suicides.
“Our families think that we come here and we’re safe, but that’s not true. I’ve seen lots of injustices but no one cares, and as a means of survival, you learn to turn your head and stay silent in order to stay alive.”
The Miami Herald has asked to see prison surveillance footage — a request also made by Latandra Ellington’s family — but those requests have been denied.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has confirmed that it is investigating the two most recent deaths at Lowell Prison.
[Image courtesy of: Word Press]