The Department of Corrections is proposing that all unattended inmate deaths and incidents involving serious injury of inmates be chiefly handled by the state Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
The proposal, which must be finalized with FDLE, is among several changes announced by prisons chief Michael Crews in the wake of a series of stories in the Miami Herald about the as yet officially unexplained death of Darren Rainey, a mentally ill inmate who was found dead in a shower at Dade Correctional Institution two years ago.
Rainey, 50, died after corrections officers at the state prison south of Homestead allegedly placed him in a locked, closet-like shower/decontamination unit, which inmates say waspunishment for defecating in his cell, and turned the water on full blast at temperatures in excess of 180 degrees. Water temperature was controlled from the outside.
Fellow inmates said he screamed for mercy, to no avail. He was found dead, his skin purportedly sagging off his body, after nearly two hours in the shower unit.
DOC’s current policy allows local police to sometimes step in and investigate inmate deaths or injuries in lieu of FDLE. In Rainey’s case, Miami-Dade police were alerted by DOC, as permitted under its policy.
Miami-Dade police detectives, however, made some missteps in the case early on, and DOC officials have expressed concern about how long it is taking to finish the probe.