Florida prison boss ‘outraged,’ promises firings over inmate’s fatal scalding

Darren Rainey
Darren Rainey

After two months of silence, Department of Corrections Secretary Mike Crews announced Wednesday that he will travel to Miami to accelerate the investigation into the death of inmate Darren Rainey, who was scalded in a shower at Dade Correctional Institution south of Homestead.

Crews said he was “outraged” by the reports, detailed in a series of articles in the Miami Herald starting in May.

In a statement released by the department, Crews also said will be traveling to prisons across the state to “assess operations, meet with leaders and officers, and take action on activities that run counter to the Department’s mission of maintaining a secure environment for officers and the inmates the Department houses.”

Miami-Dade homicide detectives are investigating the death of Rainey, a 50-year-old mentally ill inmate who was found dead in the shower in June 2012.

The Herald reported that Rainey was forced into the small shower by guards, who left him there, allegedly as punishment for defecating in his cell, for nearly two hours. Fellow inmates said he screamed for mercy but that guards taunted him and left him until he collapsed and died.

At least three fellow inmates filed several complaints to the department about Rainey’s, death but their complaints were ignored.

Police did not interview witnesses until May of this year, as the Herald was preparing to publish a story about what had occurred and the inmates unsuccessful efforts to have corrections officers held accountable. A criminal investigation remains open and neither the police report nor the autopsy has been released. Rainey’s family still has not been told how he died.

Crews said nothing about the Herald reporting on Rainey's death until Wednesday, when he said he was “outraged at these reports” and vowed to fire those responsible for the death.

Crews’ comments come a day after the Herald reported that a predecessor, former DOC Secretary James McDonough, had fired off a letter criticizing the DOC’s lack of action. McDonough said the reports in the Herald, if true, “smack of torture, sadism, murder, cover up, and ignoring of the facts.”

McDonough said he was “revolted...by the lack of sense of outrage by Department officials, and other officials.”

Crews’ statement also follows a whistle-blower complaint filed this week by four DOC investigators regarding another suspicious death behind bars. Randall Jordan-Aparo was gassed repeatedly by corrections officers at Franklin Correctional Institution after complaining about a medical condition and pleading to be taking to a hospital, records show. No one has been charged in the 2010 death

The whistle-blowers, who revisited the case after being dispatched to Franklin to investigate other “garden variety” allegations of malfeasance by staff, assert that the prison’s medical staff, corrections officers and supervisors conspired to fabricate reports and lie to law enforcement about the events leading to the inmate’s death.

The investigators complained to DOC officials and to Gov. Rick Scott's inspector general, Melinda Miguel, but when nothing was done about what they deemed a cover-up, t hey filed a federal whistleblower lawsuit on Monday — against the governor, Miguel and the DOC. The lawsuit alleges the investigators have been retaliated against for alleging wrongdoing.

Earlier Wednesday, the Herald reported that three more deaths had occurred in Florida prisons over the Fourth of July weekend, and that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement had opened three investigations into those deaths. The Herald also reported that the FBI is looking into conditions at Suwannee Correctional Institution in North Florida in the wake of a riot that occurred there.

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