Florida Prisons

Two inmates injured, 1 airlifted with trauma out of Dade Correctional

Dade Correctional Institution at 19000 SW 377th St, Homestead.
Dade Correctional Institution at 19000 SW 377th St, Homestead. MIAMI HERALD File Photo

Two inmates were injured, one with serious trauma, Wednesday afternoon at Dade Correctional Institution, one of the state’s most deadly prisons, officials confirmed.

A spokesman for the state Department of Corrections said Wednesday evening that there were two inmates who were injured, and that only one was airlifted. The spokesman said the incidents were unrelated but did not provide any other details, citing federal health privacy laws.

State prisons in Florida are dangerously understaffed and often operate at critical capacity — meaning there are times when the prisons have only the bare minimum number of guards.

Several prisons around the state have had uprisings, and in one incident last year at Columbia Correctional Institution, a corrections officer was ambushed and stabbed in a melee.

Julie Jones, secretary for the department, has been lobbying state lawmakers for more funding to hire and retain officers.

Wednesday’s incident comes three years after Dade Correctional Institution was thrust into the national spotlight for the death of an inmate locked in a shower for more than 90 minutes in its mental health unit. The inmate, Darren Rainey, 50, collapsed and died — and witnesses, most of them inmates, said that he and other prisoners who suffer from mental illness had been tortured by corrections officers.

A video from inside Dade Correctional Institution, which was released by the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office on March 17, 2017, shows prison guards removing inmate Darren Rainey from his cell.

Last year, 13 inmates died at Dade Correctional, including four from hanging — twice as many deaths as any other state prison, with the exception of Charlotte Correctional (which tallied seven) and prison hospitals and compounds catering to the sick or elderly.

Three of those who apparently killed themselves were 30 or younger, two of them men with mental illnesses. Another inmate was killed by his cellmate, and seven died of various medical ailments ranging from heart disease to lymphoma.

Jones’ plan to recruit more officers is part of an ongoing effort to clean up the state’s prisons, which have been under scrutiny for the brutal treatment of inmates who have died in record numbers over the past two years. In addition, smuggling of contraband — including illicit drugs, cigarettes and cellphones — by corrupt officers has fueled more violence, particularly among inmate gangs.

A Miami Herald I-Team investigation into corruption, sexual abuse and medical neglect at the largest women's prison in the nation, Lowell Correctional. Reporting by Julie K. Brown / jbrown@miamiherald.com.