Florida prisons fire guards; the Florida Department of Corrections has dismissed 32 prison guards this past week after a months-long investigation into alleged misconduct, inmate abuse, torture, and in at least one instance, the death of a mentally ill prisoner.
Writes MSN News on Sept. 21: “The secretary of Florida’s prison system has fired nearly three dozen guards in the wake of the recent scrutiny given to inmate deaths across the state during recent years. Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Michael Crews dismissed 32 guards on Friday. All of them had been accused of criminal misconduct or wrongdoing stemming from inmate deaths at four different prisons.”
Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Michael Crews, who spearheaded the investigation, announced the firings. Crews also advised that five of the terminated employees have been arrested for their suspected physical abuse of prisoners and subsequent efforts to conceal their actions.
The Teamsters Union, which represents the fired guards, called the actions of the DOC “unjustified,” and said the guards were simply following expected “protocols” as outlined by superior prison officials.
“The procedure they were following in Charlotte was well known and condoned by the warden,” Teamsters spokesman Bill Curtis said. “Essentially they promoted the people most responsible and liable for the incident and fired everybody else down the chain.”
American Civil Liberties Union Howard Simon, the executive director of the ACLU, had previously reached out to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder with a scathing, denunciatory letter against the oversight in multiple Florida prison systems.
“These revelations that are coming out are not about incompetence. They’re about guards killing people and public officials working feverishly to cover it up,” Simon wrote. “The lack of consistent consequences for the same crime has the potential of undermining the culture of professionalism that is necessary for running institutions with integrity.”
The SpreadIt carried specific information on some of the fired guard’s identities and their alleged actions:
Among those fired were 5 guards and a captain who were accused of attacking a prisoner named Jeremiah Tatum, 31, on Aug 5 at the Northwest Florida Reception Center. Sgts. William Finch, James Perkins, Robert Miller, Christopher Christmas and Dalton Riley who gassed Tatum with chemical agents and stomped on him while he was on the ground in handcuffs were charged with felony battery on an inmate.
Capt. James Kirkland, who ordered the illegal gassing and beating and made his sergeants lie about it, has been charged with official misconduct.
Five prison guards from the Lancaster Correctional Institution were also arrested for battery on an inmate. Officers Earl Short, Stephen Nygard and Julious Riley, and Sgts. Robert La Puma and Brittain Williams were accused of punching prisoners in the face, head and torso because they did not walk fast enough.
At the core of the abuse allegations however was the 2012 death of prisoner Darren Rainey, a mentally ill inmate housed at the Dade Correctional Institution.
The ACLU says Rainey died from a scalding, hot spray “punishment” of 180 degree water inside of a small shower unit. Officials said Rainey’s skin had separated from his body because of the searing soak. He was being punished because he defecated on the floor of his cell; records show Rainey was left unattended for two hours after he was burned.
Photos of three of the inmates who died – Walker, Rainey and Randall Jordan-Aparo – can be seen here.
Of Aparo, the Republic writes:
Inmate Randall Jordan-Aparo, a 27, died at Franklin Correctional in September 2010. Records unearthed by the newspaper show that a now-fired guard ordered Jordan-Aparo gassed as the inmate pleaded to be taken to the hospital for a blood disordered that had flared up. The inmate died later that night.
Crews said he is still looking into the massive amount of “unresolved” inmate deaths – 85 prisoners have died over the last few years. Of the widespread brutality, Crews said: “We continue to root out any and all bad actors who do not live up to our expectations.”