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On June 23, 2012 Darren Rainey, a 50-year-old black man with paranoid schizophrenia was placed by guards into a locked, 180-degree shower at Dade Correctional Institution (DCI) in Miami-Dade County, Florida as punishment. Two hours later he was dead, with skin separating from his body. This outrageous crime launched our group. Today we are fighting for the rights of all people incarcerated in Florida.
The problem goes far beyond one case. In 2016, among Florida’s 99,000 prisoners, a record 366 died. In 2015, there were 354 deaths, already an increase of 85% since the end of 2000, though the prison population only increased by approximately 39%. In 2012, Florida had the highest rate of prisoner deaths in the nation, 345 per 100,000.
It is estimated that Florida’s mentally ill are three times as likely to be in prison or jail as in a mental health facility and that 55% of men, and 75% of women, in Florida’s prisons need at least some mental health care.
Among other deaths in Florida’s prisons that should deeply trouble us are those of:
Richard Mair, who committed suicide at DCI in September 2013. He left a suicide note saying that he had been sexually assaulted by guards, who he also says made inmates fight for guards’ entertainment;
Latandra Ellington, who died in October 2014 at Lowell Correctional Institution in Ocala. After making complaints about her treatment, she was reportedly threatened by a guard with death. She was placed into what was supposed to be protective custody, but was found dead there with blunt force trauma to her abdomen.