Letters to the Editor

Miami-Dade Corrections must protect those with mental illness

Is jail anyplace for mentally ill people? We are better than this.

I have a sibling with a long history of mental illness. On several occasions throughout the years, his safety and welfare have been placed in the custody of the Miami-Dade Correctional system.

Living conditions have been sub-par at best; however, the treatment of my brother in his last incarceration was inhumane.

He was placed in a cell away from correctional officers. The officers have ridiculed my brother and would never step in to protect him from other inmates.

What is most disturbing: He was denied the most basic and essential means of life — water. My brother not only was denied clean drinking water, but the Department of Corrections actually shut off the water in his cell, leaving him to resort to drinking water from the toilet. He now has adenopathy, most likely resulting from drinking contaminated water in his cell.

He has been beaten mercilessly by other inmates as correction officers stand idly by and do nothing to stop the altercations.

At times he was denied food and, on occasion when he did receive food, it was cold and brought very late in the day. He was barely recognizable in his skeletal appearance.

Those who are mentally ill should not be integrated into the correctional system, where there is no protection from abuse and neglect while in custody. These individuals are treated worse than prisoners of war.

Torture, neglect and abuse of those with mental illness is inhumane and must not be tolerated.

We can only hope and pray for the proper training as well as oversight of the employees of the Miami-Dade Department of Corrections to display some human decency and compassion.

Lorna Burke Castellanos,