November 1, 2014

It's Been One Month Since S.P.A.N. Met With State Attorney Katherine Rundle-Fernandez Regarding the Death of Darren Rainey

Stop Prison Abuse Now (SPAN) met with State Attorney Rundle-Fernandez along with four high ranking Assistant State Attorneys one month ago. The following is a report of that meeting. 

Report on Our Meeting with State Attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundle
State Attorney's Office
Miami, Florida

SPAN representatives Steve Wetstein, Marilyn Lieberman, George Mallinckrodt, Alvin Romer, Marc Dubin and I met with Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle and four Assistant State Attorneys last Tuesday. The Assistant SAs were Don Horn, Chief Assistant State Attorney-Administration; Kathleen Hoague, Chief Assistant State Attorney-Felony Divisions; Howard Rosen, Deputy Chief Assistant State Attorney for Special Prosecutions; and Johnette Hardiman, Assistant State Attorney, Division Chief, Special Prosecutions Intake.

The meeting ran over an hour. Katherine Rundle was very gracious and gave us a general overview of what her office does. Steve delivered our list of concerns and our hope that her office would take a prominent role in the investigation (outlined in the attached letter that we gave to her after the meeting).

Ms. Rundle explained that yes, her office IS playing a role in the investigation and noted that Howard Rosen and Kathleen Hoague were particularly involved. We were pleasantly surprised to learn this. She said that she would give us only limited information as the investigation is still underway.

She explained that her office is working side-by-side with the Miami-Dade Police, not in a supervisory role but to assist them. She mentioned that Miami-Dade County Police routinely contacts her office if an “in custody” death occurs in a corrections facility in the County. In Darren Rainey’s case, they did NOT contact her when Rainey’s death occurred. Her office did not learn of his death until the first Miami Herald article came out. As a result, her office has been involved in the investigation for the last several 4 months. When I asked why the police did not contact her office, she said that DOC officials may have considered the death to be a “natural death in custody,” or something along that line.

When Steve asked what we could expect to happen with the investigation within the next three months, Ms. Rundle said that it would very likely be completed within the next several weeks.

Our group spoke about our concerns and the need for an investigation not only of Rainey’s death but of the systemic abuse that is taking place within the state prison system. George spoke of the incidents and behavior of the guards he observed while working in the Dade Correctional Institution. 

Marc Dubin (attorney with the Center for Independent Living and a former prosecutor) made an eloquent plea at the end of the meeting for Ms. Rundle and her office to consider sending their own letter to the U.S. Attorney General to request an investigation by the Department of Justice, since Darren Rainey’s death and other cases of abuse of inmates with mental illness within the state corrections system represent serious civil rights violations.

We appreciated the time that Ms. Rundle gave to us and the fact that she brought in four of her top attorneys into the meeting.

However, we are not particularly optimistic that any guards or other personnel will be indicted for Mr. Rainey’s death, as it’s been more than two years since it occurred and the investigation has only recently been re-opened, mainly because of Julie Brown’s investigative reports in the Herald. At the same time, she seemed to seriously listen to our plea that her office contact the U.S. Attorney General’s office independently.

Reporting for SPAN,

Amy McClellan

October 31, 2014

HBO's John Oliver Takes a Look at Our Prisons

HBO's John Oliver presents a satirical slant on prisons in the US. At the 12 minute mark, he goes after Florida Gov. Rick Scott.

In 154 Years, Has Anything Changed? These Images Tell the Story...

Yohanan ELiYah of the New Abolitionists sent me this disturbing graphic where the past is juxtaposed with the present...

A story in  Harper’s Weekly, Dec. 18, 1858, featured an illustration of a man being killed by a shower bath at Auburn Correctional Facility in New York State, entitled  “The Negro convict, More, showered to death.”   “. . . all the water that was in the tank — amounting to from three to five barrels, the quantity is uncertain — was showered upon him in spite of his piteous cries; a few minutes after his release from the bath he fell prostrate, was carried to his cell, and died in five minutes.”

October 28, 2014

I'll be discussing my book, "Getting Away With Murder," on WLRN Public Radio in Miami - Wednesday the 29th at 1pm

Tomorrow, I'll be on a terrific Miami radio show called Tropical Currents from 1-2 pm Wednesday the 29th. The following link will take you to Tropical Currents where you can listen live over the internet. For local listeners, the show will be on FM 91.3. Listeners can also call in. 

Hosts Bonnie Berman and Joseph Cooper will interview me regarding my book, Getting Away With Murder. The Miami Herald's Julie Brown will join us the second half to speak about the larger Florida Department of Corrections issues.   

Hope you all tune in! If you miss the show, don't worry - I'll post it on my website.


Yesterday at 10am, a group of people converged on the Capitol in Tallahassee, FL. Many had come to voice their fears regarding the Department of Corrections lack of concern for the safety of their family members who are currently incarcerated. Debbie, whom I've had contact with previously, described the many beatings and abuse her son had suffered while housed at prisons around the state.

Another woman, Ada Campos, will never see her son again. Justin Campos was stabbed to death in a retaliation killing by two members of the Latin Kings. Ada blames the DOC for not protecting him - despite knowing he was a target of a gangland hit. The DOC has still not released details of his death over a year later. Steven Alberts, a former inmate at my old workplace, Dade Correctional Institution, gave accounts of the many abuses guards dished out while he housed there.

The PROTESTERS piled into DOC headquarters and met with Michael Crews - Secretary of the DOC, Jeff Beasley - Inspector General, and Tim Cannon - Deputy Secretary of the DOC. In a conversation with Debbie last night, she chuckled as she repeated what she told Crews, "I've been calling to talk to you for two years…the only person I spoke to was your secretary - she knows me real well!"

Crews assured the PROTESTERS their concerns were taken seriously. That was little comfort to family members who have read about the recent death of Latandra Ellington. A mother of four children, she was apparently beaten to death by guards - an independent autopsy revealed abdominal hemorrhaging consistent with being punched or kicked.

The PROTESTERS attempted to meet with Gov. Rick Scott. Even though his calendar was empty, the Governor would not meet with them. Neither would Lieutenant Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera.

Photos courtesy of:

Ada Campos speaks about her son Justin

Debbie dressed as deceased inmate while protesting
 the poor care of inmates by the DOC

Ada Campos speaks about her son Justin as relatives 
protested the care of inmates by the state of Florida.

Ada Campos with her son Justin

One of the many protest signs

October 23, 2014

Join the INMATE FAMILY CAPITOL PROTESTERS in Tallahassee on Monday, October 27 at 10am!


The INMATE FAMILY CAPITOL PROTESTERS will meet on the House side of the Capitol at 9:30am and then will proceed to Gov. Scott's office at 10am. The ongoing abuse of inmates, the poor treatment of the mentally ill, and a host of issues regarding the Florida Department of Corrections will be the subject of the protests. Gov. Scott's lack of leadership is certain to be addressed.

If you can be a part of the protests, or know of others with an interest in bringing these issues to the attention of the Governor, please attend.
For information to sign up, please contact:

Leslie Steele


George Mallinckrodt

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

                                                                      Edmund Burke

October 21, 2014

Press Release - Official Book Launch of GETTING AWAY WITH MURDER at Books & Books

October 21, 2014 | Miami, Florida


A psychotherapist reveals horrific abuse in a 
Florida state prison psychiatric ward

A True Story

Meet whistleblower and activist George Mallinckrodt as he discusses GETTING AWAY WITH MURDER at Books & Books, 265 Aragon Avenue, Coral Gables, FL, November 2 at 6pm.  

George Mallinckrodt spent nearly three years counseling inmates with severe mental health issues. Increasingly, guards began to single out the weak and mentally ill to abuse them for their own amusement. George refused to stay silent about guards who beat a vulnerable, cuffed inmate. Within two months, he was fired.

Ten months later, George answered a jarring telephone call from a former colleague detailing a sadistic murder in the same state prison psychiatric ward. Guards locked a mentally ill inmate named Darren Rainey into a scalding hot shower. Hours later, begging to be let out, he died in a room the size of a phone booth. Inmates in cells nearby were helpless to do anything but listen to his cries.

George Mallinckrodt began writing GETTING AWAY WITH MURDER in frustration over the many dead-ends he encountered while trying to bring Rainey's killers to justice. The narrative follows George's progression from an idealistic psychotherapist to a prison hardened case manager in the Transitional Care Unit where Darren Rainey would be housed.


In mid-May 2014, the Miami Herald's Julie Brown published a prisoner's detailed account of Darren Rainey's murder. Mallinckrodt immediately came forward publicly to share what he had heard. Since then, George has been a guest on numerous television and radio shows. He speaks frequently to legislators, community advocacy groups, and civil rights attorneys regarding the mentally ill and prison reform.

For more information regarding this topic or to schedule an interview, refer to the following:

October 17, 2014

My Thoughts on Today's Miami Herald Article Regarding "Use of Force"

My response to today's Miami Herald article: 

Florida prison boss orders use-of-force audit

Excessive "use of force" was common in the psychiatric unit at the Dade Correctional Institution. As a counselor there, I became increasingly frustrated as mentally ill inmates on my caseload were subjected to a host of abuses. An inmate who had progressed well was manhandled and slammed to the concrete floor by guards - opening a bloody gash on his forehead. This man decompensated to the point of attacking me weeks later. Another inmate was beaten while my colleague looked on.

The site manager for Corizon Health, Inc. knew of these incidents. So did Warden Jerry Cummings and the Major in charge of the psych unit. My Incident Reports were swept under the rug - ignored by those with the power to stop abuse. Left unchecked and operating with complete impunity, guards began torturing men with the scalding shower treatment. Darren Rainey died in agony as a result.

Now we are seeing the tiniest steps in the right direction. The "use of force" reports the Herald will get are going to be heavily redacted to the point of being useless. Is that Secretary Crews' idea of transparency? We need to see charges brought against these criminals in uniform. Our society cannot have two sets of laws - ones for the guards and ones for the rest of us.


Florida prison boss orders use-of-force audit



10/17/2014 7:03 AM

Over the past decade, Lt. Walter Gielow has been named in more reports of use of force against inmates than any other officer working for the Florida Department of Corrections.With a record of 179 reports since 2003, Gielow — and fellow officer Patrick Germain, with 172 reports — have helped make Santa Rosa Correctional Institution, in the state’s Panhandle, number three in the state in frequency of use of force against inmates, behind Union Correctional and Charlotte.

In the recently completed fiscal year, state corrections officers logged 7,300 use-of-force cases, nearly 1,000 more than the previous year, according to the department's data. Use-of-force cases have roughly doubled since 2008.

And these are only the cases that are reported by the officers and the prisons. Many others never get documented.

These numbers prompted Michael Crews, secretary of the Department of Corrections, to announce this week that he is ordering an independent audit of the agency’s procedures and policies involving the use of force against inmates.

“Use of force’’ is a broad term. It covers any time a corrections officer uses physical force or certain chemical agents to subdue an inmate deemed to be causing a disturbance or resisting a lawful command. Officers are sometimes named as subjects, sometimes as participants.

Corrections officials know that a significant number of force applications never get reported, said Ron McAndrew, former warden at Florida State Prison.

“There were many times at Florida State Prison where I would come upon situations where I encountered an inmate who had two black eyes, a bloody mouth, and bruises up and down his body,” he said. “I would ask him what happened and he said he fell off his bunk. Well, he didn’t get injuries like that from falling off his bunk. He was too afraid to tell me that he was beaten by the officers.”

The Miami Herald has requested detailed records involving the 10 corrections officers who have accumulated the most use-of-force reports over the past 10 years.

The documents are public records, and the Department of Corrections has said it will provide them — for a fee of $7,819.15. That covers the cost of 365 hours — nine weeks-plus — of staff time to review and prepare the documents.

Crews said in a written statement that he is committed to transparency. He recently completed a statewide tour of all 49 prisons during which he met with staff and issued a stern warning that excessive force will not be tolerated, the department has said.

The Association of State Corrections Administrators will conduct the audit through visits to the state’s prisons, inspections and other evaluations, according to a corrections department news release.

In a letter to the association's leadership, Crews stated that the department’s annual report, completed in recent weeks, showed another increase in use of force reports over the previous year. But the department also noted that use-of-force numbers dropped over the past three months, a time when the Herald and other news media have been scrutinizing questionable inmate deaths.

“During the summer months of 2014 [June-August], use-of-force incidents decreased 16 percent where, historically, use-of-force incidents have climbed during these months,” said McKinley Lewis, a department spokesman.

McAndrews, now a prison consultant, predicted that one area where the department will be found deficient will be in the way it disciplines — or fails to discipline — officers who use excessive force.

Crews recently fired 32 officers, most of whom were under investigation in connection with alleged abuse — sometimes fatal abuse — of inmates.

“What Crews is doing, especially if he files charges of assault and battery against those officers, is a giant step in the right direction,” McAndrews said. “It’s sending a message to the criminals that are wearing corrections officer uniforms.”

October 13, 2014

Sascha Cordner of WUSF interviewed me after the press conference regarding the suspicious death of Latandra Elllington

Ex-DOC Employee Gives Take On Florida Prison Reforms, Inmate Abuse Allegations

"Getting Away With Murder" is a book by former DOC employee, George Mallinckrodt, speaking about his experiences in the psychiatric unit of Dade Correctional Institution.
Florida’s prison system has been in the news a lot lately, between suspicious prison deaths, allegations of inmate abuse, and new reforms meant to address such abuses. But, some say the reforms are not enough and a change in leadership should be in store.
In recent months, the Florida Department of Corrections has come under fire for several prison deaths, alleged inmate abuses and its handling of the investigations. A number of prison guards have since been fired as part of a series of new reforms implemented by Secretary Mike Crews.
“In our department, we’re going to be transparent,” said Crews, during an earlier interview with WFSU. “We’ve got nothing to hide and we welcome the opportunity to examine some of these issues, to look at our internal workings, policy and procedures, and where we can make changes, which enhance our ability to do our jobs better, then I think that’s an opportunity that we need to take and we are taking.”
The reforms include having the Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigate prison deaths that are not from natural causes.
The latest is Latandra Ellington, who was found dead earlier this month after telling relatives weeks ago she feared for her life at the hands of prison guards. Her family is still seeking answers into her death, and their attorneys say an independent autopsy shows she was punched and kicked.
But, it’s recent media reports into the death of a mentally ill inmate Darren Rainey in 2012 at Dade Correctional Institution that really spurred the reforms. Rainey died after he was left in a scalding hot shower that was allegedly used as a way for guards to punish inmates.
“It’s pretty scary that two years later, there’s no charges, the ME’s report is still pending,” said George Mallinckrodt.

George Mallinckrodt, a former mental health counselor at Dade Correctional Institution's psychiatric unit. It's the same unit where mentally ill inmate Darren Rainey died.
Credit Sascha Cordner / WFSU-FM
Mallinckrodt says he’s witnessed similar abuses by guards at the South Florida correctional facility. He worked as a mental health counselor in the same psychiatric unit where Rainey died, and outlines some of the alleged abuse in his newly released book called “Getting Away With Murder.”
“In an eerie coincidence, on June 23, 2011, a year to the day before Rainey was killed, an inmate named Joseph Swilling was handcuffed behind his back and briskly escorted to a hallway to meet his fate. Out of sight from cameras, he was thrown to the concrete floor and kicked repeatedly by correctional officers,” he added.
He says the beating would have gone unchecked, if a counselor had not yelled at them to stop. But, for fear of retaliation by guards, he adds his coworker denied seeing anything in the incident report.
So, he says correctional officers continued to harm prisoners, knowing no one would report it.
“And, what we’ve seen is that the line officers who commit these acts are supported by their administrators, by their lieutenants, by the major, they’re all either condoning the activity or they’re covering it up, and it goes all the way up to the warden,” continued Mallinckrodt.
When Mallinckrodt worked for Dade, he was under the supervision of Warden Jerry Cummings. He says he told Cummings about the abuses, but nothing was ever done.
Corrections Secretary Mike Crews has since fired Cummings in July. Mallinckrodt, meanwhile, also no longer works for Dade, after he says he was fired for taking long lunches. But, he says the real reason is because months before he left, he refused to stay silent about inmate abuses, like Swilling’s case.
“And, so I developed incident reports and some of them involved guards in the unit and so, I started to get dirty looks and I was feeling the avalanche of abuse stories,” stated Mallinckrodt. “And, my stress level was through the roof. So, my strategy—being a psychotherapist, always looking for ways to cope—was to take long lunches because I couldn’t stand to be in the place. But, read between the lines because they wanted me silenced.”
He says he even went to the Department of Justice and the FBI, but was told that the only way they would look into it is if one of his co-workers wore a wire. He says that’s impossible because all employees have to go through a metal detector, and his inquiry was dropped.
Still, Mallinckrodt says a standard FBI probe wouldn’t work now, and he hopes the U.S. Department of Justice under outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder can step in.
“Clever guards, administrators, and wardens always put on a show for visiting VIPs. I know this from the many dog and pony shows I witnessed in my unit,” he said.
While he’s critical of the extent of new mental health reforms recently implemented, he does call it a great first step. Among those reform is extra training for prison guards and hiring an ombudsman to represent mentally ill Florida inmates. And, while she too calls it a step in the right direction, former Republican Senator Paula Dockery—who worked on many criminal justice issues in the legislature—says it’s not enough.
“You know the Governor is now on his third Department of Corrections Secretary in less than four years and you’ve had deaths in the prison system, you’ve had cover-ups, you’ve had Inspector Generals, who were trying to get that information out. You’ve got it going all the way up to the head Inspector General under the Governor, in the Governor’s office, and I think there’s some real problems with the way the administration is handling the department of Corrections,” said Dockery.
Dockery concludes it’s in part a leadership problem. She says it started when Ed Buss, Scott’s first Corrections Secretary, was forced to resign before Buss had a chance to do some meaningful work for the department.
“Buss had experience in another system. The other two have not had any experience in the prison system. There has been no strong leadership in the agency in the people he’s put in since Buss,” she added.
She believes Buss was fired over not getting fully on board with prison privatization—an effort pushed by Scott.

October 8, 2014

George Mallinckrodt - Talking Points October 7, 2014 - Latandra Ellington Press Conference

Yesterday, October 7th at 1:30 pm, I participated in a press conference in Tallahassee, Florida regarding the suspicious death of Latandra Ellington on October 1st. Civil rights attorneys representing Latandra's family, Daryl Parks and Ben Crump, spoke first followed by me and Dale Landry of the NAACP.

What Parks, Crump, and Landry said was summarized in today's Miami Herald story. My talking points that follow include a reference to Suwanee Correctional Institution. From what I have heard from family members, Suwanee CI is one of the most abusive prisons in all of Florida.

Inmate reports threats by guard, turns up dead


10/08/2014 7:43 AM

Latandra Ellington had weathered some of Lowell Correctional Institution’s harshest and most primitive realities, and was just seven months shy of freedom — and being reunited with her four young children.

But on Sept. 21, Ellington wrote a chilling letter to her aunt telling her she feared she wouldn’t make it out alive. One of the officers at the prison — she identified him as “Sgt. Q” — had threatened to beat and kill her, she wrote.

“He was gone [sic] beat me to death and mess me like a dog,’’ she wrote. “He was all in my face Sqt. Q then he grab his radio and said he was gone bust me in my head with it...’’

Ten days later, on Oct. 1, Ellington, 36, was dead. Corrections officials said Ellington, who had been serving 22 months for grand theft, was in confinement — separated from the general population — at the time of her death because the agency had taken her family’s concerns about the alleged threats “seriously.’’

Still, with no answers about how the death happened, the family hired an attorney and paid for a private autopsy. The autopsy, their lawyer said Monday, showed that Ellington suffered blunt-force trauma to her abdomen consistent with being punched and kicked in the stomach.

On Monday, civil rights attorney Daryl Parks, whose firm represented the Trayvon Martin family and has now been hired by Ellington’s relatives, urged U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate.

Parks, joined by Florida’s NAACP, told Holder in a letter they were particularly concerned that evidence in the case “will be lost or destroyed’’ and that local and state law enforcement have demonstrated they are unable to conduct an impartial investigation.

“It’s not right that these four children would lose their mom,’’ Parks said. “While the trail is very fresh, we believe a federal investigation is warranted.”

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement confirmed that it was called to the scene of her death and is investigating.

“She was not sentenced to the death sentence and the Department of Corrections certainly owed her far greater protection,’’ Parks said.

Lowell, based in Ocala, was built in 1956, and houses young, elderly and infirm female inmates, from minor drug offenders to the six women currently on Florida’s Death Row.

Department of Corrections records show only one male sergeant at the prison whose name begins with a Q.

The DOC did not respond to questions about whether the sergeant had any links to the case, his current status — or whether anyone had been suspended in connection with Ellington’s death. It issued a statement saying “this is an ongoing investigation, and any additional details, including reports from the medical examiner, are confidential at this time.”

The Herald reached out to the sergeant, but a message left with a woman who answered his phone number was not returned Monday.

Ellington is among nearly 200 ongoing state prison death investigations that have been turned over to the FDLE.

It is the second time this year that civil rights groups have called on the Justice Department to examine alleged human rights abuses in Florida’s prison system.

In June, several groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, called on Holder to intervene in the death of Darren Rainey, a 50-year-old mentally ill inmate who died in a scalding shower at Dade Correctional Institution in 2012. Witnesses have said that Rainey, and other mentally ill inmates at the prison south of Homestead, have been starved or tortured. His case remains under investigation by Miami-Dade police, and no one has been charged.

Dale Landry, vice president of the Florida conference of the NAACP, called for immediate intervention by the federal government, and said reform of Florida’s correctional facilities has become a top issue of the national organization.

“Death, abuse and official misconduct is rampant in Florida’s criminal justice system and nowhere is it more pervasive than in our law enforcement and correction agencies,’’ he said, noting that his organization has received a stream of complaints from inmates’ families in the past few years.

“For over 14 years, and especially the last four, Floridians have watched this tyranny grow,” he said.

Bill Warner, a private investigator who has probed several cases at Lowell, said the female inmates who are raped or sexually abused by male guards rarely report it out of fear that they won’t be able to see their children. About 65 percent of female inmates are mothers, and the prison also houses a population of pregnant inmates, he said.

“Everyone I talked to — it’s always the same story. There are beat-downs and they are subjected to indignities like males strip-searching them,’’ Warner said.

Ellington’s aunt, Algerine Jennings, said she feared that her niece was being sexually abused or knew about the abuse of other inmates and had complained. Her niece had previously told her she had filed several complaints with other officers at the prison and feared she would face retaliation.

Sgt. Q, she told her aunt, always turned his badge around so that she couldn’t see his name. In one of the letters, she said he took her into a room and repeatedly told her he was going to “beat the sh-- out’’ of her. She also provided the names of other corrections officers who had witnessed violence and mentioned the beating of a “white girl’’ at the prison recently.

“Auntie, no one knows how to spell or say this man’s name,’’ Ellington wrote about the guard in her last letter to her aunt. “But he goes by Sgt. Q and he works the B Shift a.m. So please call up here.’’

After getting the letter, which Ellington sent under an assumed name, Jennings called the prison on Sept. 30, frantic about her niece’s well-being. She said she spoke to a Major Patterson. She said he assured her he would “look after” her niece. She could hear Ellington in the background, so she felt relieved when he said she was safe in confinement.

But less than 24 hours later, the family was told she was dead.

They were given no cause of death and they haven't been contacted since — no questions to indicate the department was investigating her claims, no attempt to reassure them, Parks said.

“This state owes them more than that,” he said. “They get one call from a chaplain saying she’s dead, and nothing.”

Jennings, the aunt, said the sergeant had been terrorizing her, but she was too afraid to tell her why.

“She just said she couldn’t fight them. He told her ‘Do not underestimate my power.’ ’’

Read more here:
George Mallinckrodt  Talking Points
October 7, 2014
Latandra Ellington Press Conference

Having worked as a counselor in the very same psychiatric unit where Darren Rainey was killed, I can personally attest to the cover-up mentality of the Florida Department of Corrections. Many inmates on my caseload filed months and months of grievances regarding abusive behavior by guards that were never addressed.

Grievances are often hijacked by guards who in turn taunt the aggrieved inmate. In my tenure, the cameras were often broken and the recordings grainy to the point of being useless.  

In a beating incident I refused to stay silent about, guards employed a rather sinister strategy to pressure a staffer to back off. In an eerie coincidence, on June 23, 2011, a year to the day before Rainey was killed, an inmate named Joseph Swilling was handcuffed behind his back and briskly escorted to a hallway to meet his fate. Out of sight from cameras, he was thrown to the concrete floor and kicked repeatedly by correctional officers.

The beating would have continued unchecked if not for the timely intervention of my coworker who pounded on the window while yelling, "Stop! Stop! Stop!" Out of fear of retaliation, this coworker wrote on the Incident Report that he/she did not see anything.

As counselors, guards escorted us into sessions with violent inmates, some of whom were mentally unbalanced. Guards were required to monitor the session through large windows. Any counselor who incurred the wrath of COs would be left without security.

The strategy of the guards was to simply leave the counselor alone with the inmate.

One counselor I know of resigned believing her life was in danger. As a result, most counselors stayed silent even after witnessing multiple instances of abuse, torment, and beating.

Given the documented failures of the DOC on many levels, it is essential that the Department of Justice intervene and provide assistance to the Florida Department of Corrections.

By doing so it will allow the inmates and prison guards to be less fearful to report incidents that may eventually lead to a death or serious bodily injuries.
These unnecessary and unforgivable killings have to stop. Latandra Ellington should not have died in her solitary confinement cell. The Florida DOC, like many large organizations, cannot be trusted to regulate itself. It is time they get pulled into the new millennium - dragged kicking and screaming if need be. After all, that is what the DOC understands.

I urge Governor Scott to allow the DOJ to investigate the DOC. He took a bold step in requesting the Department of Children and Families be investigated. Scott should do the same for the DOC - our inmates deserve it.

Admittedly, mental health reforms will take time. The beating, torture, and killing of men and women in prison will not end overnight. However, one major step can be taken now to curb these horrific events. It is vitally important that attorney general Eric Holder open an investigation into all suspicious deaths of inmates in Florida prisons. The FL DOC has a deep rooted culture of abuse and a long track record of covering up criminal activity at all costs.

This investigation must proceed with the help of families and individuals whose loved ones tell them horror stories from the inside. Having the FBI investigate a prison for a few days is no guarantee of an accurate result. A woman whose husband is in the Suwanee Correctional Institution reports that inmates were threatened with beatings or worse if they spoke the truth to FBI agents. I was told beatings resumed almost immediately after the FBI left.

Eric Holder must act now. However, a standard FBI investigation will not work. Clever guards, administrators, and wardens always put on a show for visiting VIPs. I know this from the many dog and pony shows I witnessed in my unit. Any investigation must be conducted with this in mind. Getting to the truth will not be easy.   

What happened to Latandra Ellington and Darren Rainey must never happen again.

The following documents include letters written by Latandra out of fear for her life:

October 4, 2014

Official Book Launch November 2nd at Books & Books - Coral Gables, Florida

I'm pleased to announce the official book launch of Getting Away With Murder. It will take place on a Sunday at 6 PM in the Books & Books located at 265 Aragon Avenue.


I anticipate speaking about my experiences in the psychiatric unit and reading a passage or two from Getting Away With Murder. I'll take questions afterward as well as updating everyone on recent developments in the Florida DOC.

I look forward to seeing you all there!

George Mallinckrodt

September 4, 2014

Echoes of the Past - ‘Brubaker’ busts Arkansas prison system

I came across this article and was struck by the similarities to what is happening with regard to recent revelations exposing the deaths of inmates here in Florida. It seems whenever bodies are unearthed, the people trying to do the right thing get run out of town... GM

‘Brubaker’ busts Arkansas prison system

Featured Column / A Matter That Matters
Kenneth and Nancy Webster / September 3, 2014

During the 1940s and ’50s we lived in the small community of Deer Creek in Grant County, Oklahoma. None of us ever dreamed that Tom Murton, a young neighbor boy who grew up a mile from Nancy’s family’s rural home, would three decades later be portrayed by actor Robert Redford as “Brubaker” on the movie screens across America.
In 1950, four years after this modest, soft-spoken young man graduated from high school, he graduated from Oklahoma A&M College with a degree in animal husbandry. During the 1950s he completed additional degrees in mathematics and criminology.

Soon after Alaska’s statehood in 1959, Murton was hired to create an Alaskan correctional system. In 1967, the high marks he got for his Alaskan work influenced Winthrop Rockefeller, the new governor of Arkansas, to hire him as Arkansas’ warden -- the first professional penologist ever hired in Arkansas.

At that same time, Gov. Rockefeller ordered the release of a report on Arkansas’ prison system, a report his predecessor, Gov. Orval Faubus, ordered written, then suppressed. The 67-page report detailed the horrific conditions at Arkansas’ Tucker and Cummins state penal farms. They included endemic sexual assault, electrical torture, flogging, beatings with blackjacks, etc.

The report also revealed the inmates’ open marketing of illegal drugs and alcohol, and a host of other malicious and criminal practices. Particularly ironic was the report of poor quality food being fed the prisoners, even though the prison farms they worked on marketed produce and dairy products worth a million dollars annually.

Contrastingly, Murton’s ideas on prison reform included treating prisoners with respect, abolishing corporal punishment, providing better food, rooting out extortion, and other rackets among the inmates.

Shortly after he arrived in Arkansas, Murton learned from an inmate informant that as many as 200 bodies were buried on prison grounds. Early in February 1968, Murton ordered excavations at the Cummins farm. After three bodies were uncovered, Gov. Rockefeller halted the excavations even though there were at least 15 more depressions clearly visible. The governor claimed that Murton’s excavations had become a “sideshow.”

Although these burials took place before Gov. Rockefeller’s 1967 inauguration, his administration was severely embarrassed by the national attention created as a result of that prior brutality Murton exposed. Gov. Rockefeller’s official report on the matter, written by the Arkansas State Police, promoted the position that the bodies must have been from a paupers’ cemetery a mile away.

Less than a year after his 1967 hiring, Murton’s actions had disturbed the Rockefeller administration to the extent that two months after the three bodies were exhumed, he was fired. He was told he had 24 hours to get out of the state or be arrested for grave robbing, a charge that could bring a 21-year sentence in Arkansas. He left the state.

In 1969, Murton and co-author, Joe Hyams, published Accomplices to the Crime: the Arkansas Prison Scandal. Following its publication, Tom was unable to find work in the correctional industry; his prison administration career ended. He believed he had been blackballed for his Arkansas stand.

In 1980, a fictionalized film based on that Murton-Hyams book was produced. The very popular film, titled “Brubaker,” with Robert Redford as Warden Henry Brubaker, was nominated for an Oscar.

Ten years later, Thomas O. Murton died of cancer at 62 years. He is buried in Deer Creek’s Bayard Cemetery under a plain military-style tombstone inscribed: “Thomas O’Rhelius Murton, 1st Lt, U.S. Army, March 15, 1928, October 10, 1990.” Tom did the right thing. We respect and honor him.

Ken and Nan Webster have collected inspiration for many years from many sources, and now inspire readers of “A Matter That Matters.” Contact them at or visit

September 1, 2014

Gassing an inmate as punishment is not allowed in DOC rules

After Florida inmate’s lethal gassing, claims of cover-up

The 2010 death of an inmate in a prison in the Panhandle is being investigated once again amid questions about the original investigation.


Incensed that he had cursed at a nurse, guards at Franklin Correctional Institution in the Panhandle fired nine blasts of noxious gas into his 13-by-8 cell through a slot in the door and, ultimately, left him there, sobbing.

“I can’t breathe, I can’t take it no more, please help me,’’ he pleaded.

Five hours later, the 27-year-old was found lifeless, face-down on the bare slab. His mouth and nose were pressed to the bottom of the door, as if trying to gulp fresh air through the thin crack. His hair, legs, toes, torso and mouth were dusted with a faint orange residue, a byproduct of the gas.

A paperback Bible was under his shoulder.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement sent two investigators, Michael Kennedy and Michael DeVaney, to look into what had occurred. Their conclusion, summarized in one paragraph: The “disciplinary actions” taken by guards had no bearing on the death.

“They just said he got sick,’’ Jordan-Aparo’s father, Thomas Aparo, recalled being told by corrections officials.

Four years after the September 2010 incident, Jordan-Aparo’s death, and the Florida Department of Corrections’ and FDLE’s highly questionable account of how and why it occurred have spawned a federal investigation, a new probe by FDLE and an uprising by staff in the prison system’s inspector general’s office. Four inspectors say their boss, Inspector General Jeffery Beasley, threatened them at last year’s Christmas Party, saying he’d “have their asses” if they didn’t quit poking their noses into the case, court papers say.

Meanwhile, at least three Franklin guards involved in the gassing or its aftermath have been suspended with pay, one since March 2012, the others since summer of 2013. According to documents obtained by the Miami Herald, many others who were involved remain gainfully employed, and some have been promoted.


The Jordan-Aparo case is one of a growing number of deaths being scrutinized by criminal investigators, part of a scandal that has embarrassed the head of the Department of Corrections, Secretary Michael Crews, and begun to tar those closer to Gov. Rick Scott.

The current investigations grew out of a 2013 probe of “garden variety” corruption at Franklin, including allegations that a female corrections officer was brazenly engaging in sex with multiple inmates inside the compound. Inmates who were not part of these alleged romps became jealous and complained. Corrections department inspectors Aubrey Land, David Clark, Doug Glisson and John Ulm went to the prison to investigate.

Inmates at Franklin were incredulous, saying the dalliances were a trifling matter compared to the brutal circumstances surrounding Jordan-Aparo’s death.

Intrigued, the inspectors began digging. They interviewed inmates, studied the use-of-force report, the video captured by surveillance cameras, audio of the incident and photographs of Jordan-Aparo’s body. Among their findings:

• A claim by prison staffers that Jordan-Aparo was being “disorderly” before his death was false.

• Initial reports downplayed the fact that Jordan-Aparo was complaining about experiencing extreme pain and simply wanted medical attention, preferably in a hospital.

• Contrary to claims that his cell had been decontaminated after the gassing, photos clearly showed residue everywhere — orange smears on the floor, in the sink and in the toilet bowl. There was a dense orange cloud above the bunk where Jordan-Aparo would have sat.

• Although reports said Jordan-Aparo was issued a fresh set of clothing after the gassing, he was dressed only in dirty, orange-stained boxers.

• Nobody assigned to investigate the matter administratively from the Department of Corrections watched the “use of force” video showing Jordan-Aparo being gassed.

Their conclusion: Jordan-Aparo died as a result of medical negligence and the “sadistic, retaliatory” use of chemical agents on a sick and helpless inmate who did nothing wrong. And that staff reports following the death contained inconsistencies, errors, omissions and outright lies.

According to the four inspectors who went to Franklin, these findings received a frosty reception from Beasley, who soon informed them that they were now under investigation. The reason had to do with their handling of the probe into the sexual escapades at Franklin. One inmate, challenged to provide proof of his relationship with the guard, described in detail and diagrammed the tattoos on her buttocks. To verify the inmate’s statement, Land obtained a search warrant. A female inspector and lieutenant executed it, located the tattoos and photographed them.

The photos were taken as evidence. A lawyer for the corrections officer later complained.

For that, they were told, they were now being targeted.

Relations between the inspectors and their boss deteriorated further, culminating in the alleged encounter during the 2013 Christmas party. The inspectors went above Beasley’s head, approaching Secretary Crews and, ultimately, the governor’s chief inspector general, Melinda Miguel. They sought whistle-blower status, essentially a guarantee that they would not face retaliation for bucking the chain of command.

In a meeting with Miguel that was tape recorded, with permission, by Land, he detailed what he called the Jordan-Aparo cover-up, other corruption within the department and the retaliation he and others were subjected to by Beasley. Miguel denied whistle-blower status to Land and to the others, who had similarly requested protection.

The four filed suit in federal court in July of this year. In the lawsuit, which names Miguel, her deputy, Beasley and his deputy as defendants, the four say they faced retaliation for trying to investigate alleged departmental wrongdoing, which is their job.

Recently, two more inspector general staffers came forward, claiming that they, too, were subjected to threats and intimidation after telling their bosses and Miguel about possible criminal misconduct by prison staff. One of them, inspector James Padgett, claimed that Beasley and deputy Kenneth Sumpter committed perjury and obstruction of justice while trying to squelch other investigations.

In a written statement Friday, Miguel said she and corrections staff are cooperating with the investigation into Jordan-Aparo’s death, adding she has “zero tolerance for unethical or abusive behavior’’ in the department.

Crews, in a written statement, said that he is cooperating as well, and working hard to make it clear that “fabrication, lies, deception, retaliation or other unethical behavior’’ will not be tolerated in the system.

Neither Miguel nor Crews would talk about the case with a Miami Herald reporter.


In May, the Herald began a series of articles about prison deaths with the story of Darren Rainey, a 50-year-old mentally-ill inmate at Dade Correctional Institution south of Homestead.

After he defecated in his cell and refused to clean up the mess, Rainey was herded by corrections officers into a locked, closet-like shower and left there, subjected to a stream of unbearably hot water for as long as two hours until he collapsed and died. His pleas for mercy went unheeded, according to inmate witnesses.

Unlike the Jordan-Aparo case, where the recent allegations have been made by highly regarded staffers, the complaints about Rainey’s treatment came from fellow inmates, who witnessed what went on or heard his screams and sent a string of letters and grievances to prison department leaders. They were ignored. The June 2012 death went uninvestigated for nearly two years, until the Herald began interviewing inmates in May.

In the wake of the Herald’s reporting, Crews fired Dade Correctional Warden Jerry Cummings and his deputy, Royce Dyke. The guard suspected of being primarily responsible for forcing Rainey into the shower, a beefy former college lineman, resigned in July. To date, no one has been criminally charged. At a pair of news conferences, Crews vowed reforms, not only at Dade Correctional, but across the prison system.

When they filed suit, the prison system inspectors attached copies of the Herald stories on the questionable deaths of Rainey and other inmates to support their claim that the department isn’t exercising due diligence in investigating suspicious inmate deaths.

Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida, said despite Crews’ promises of reform, the state’s prison system isn’t likely to change until people are held accountable and prosecuted.

The problem, he said, is not one incident but “a culture within the [Department of Corrections] in which guards feel they can kill inmates with impunity.’’


Life was not easy for Jordan-Aparo even before he landed in the bleak confines of Franklin Correctional. Shawn Jordan-Aparo, his younger brother, said their birth father was a drug dealer who sexually abused him and his older brother from the time they were little. Their mother, he said, was a drug addict who was in and out of prison and was never able to take care of them.

At the ages of 5 and 7, the boys began a nomadic life that Shawn says took them to 28 different foster homes over the next five years,

“We got to the point that we didn’t even unpack our stuff. We just skipped from home to home,’’ he said.

Both boys suffered from a genetic blood disorder, Osler-Weber-Rendu (HHT) syndrome, a treatable but little-known disease that causes abnormal blood vessel formation in the lungs, liver, skin and brain that often leads to chronic nose-bleeding and lesions on the skin and around the mouth.

Shawn said he and Randall ended up in an orphanage in Tampa, where they were mentored by the recreation director, who though single, eventually decided to adopt them.

“I just knew it would be hard for them to be adopted at their age,” Thomas Aparo said. “I wanted to give them a second chance.”

But by then, the boys were teenagers, and after spending most of their young lives tethered to foster care, the lure of new-found freedom was too tempting. They struck out on their own and began getting into trouble.

“Neither one of us knew anything about drugs, sex, school, friends that get you trouble, having a work ethic. No one really taught us all those things.

“We were always kind of on our own. We weren’t bad people. We did what we had to do to survive. We stole food from Walmart — no gang-banging or violent things,’’ Shawn said.

He said Randall was like a father figure, taking care of him and sometimes taking the fall when they got into trouble.

While both served time in prison on and off, they remained in touch.

In 2010, with Randall doing a stretch at Franklin and Shawn on the outside, the brothers started planning a new life. They spoke on the phone three months before Randall’s death.

“He was talking like he was happy. He was saying ‘I’m almost out and maybe we can get together and change.’ And three months after that — bam — he is dead.’’

At first, Shawn said, the family was told that Randall had suffocated in his cell. Then they were told he died of internal bleeding. But nothing seemed to make sense because, Shawn said, Randall was in good health the last time he spoke to him.

After the memorial service, Shawn heard from an inmate’s mother. She said her son had written her from Franklin that Randall’s death didn’t happen the way the department was claiming.


A week before Jordan-Aparo’s death on Sept. 19, 2010, he began experiencing bleeding problems, Department of Corrections records indicate. On Sept. 15, senior registered nurse Pamela Housholder noted that Jordan-Aparo had complained of back pain after falling while playing basketball on the prison grounds.

Over subsequent days, Jordan-Aparo collapsed several times and was taken at least three times to the infirmary, where nurses did little to help him, records show. He had a fever of 102, told the medical staff his lungs and his heart were hurting and that he was having trouble breathing.

At one point, nurse Martha Greene performed an electrocardiogram, but admitted she wasn’t good at reading the results. She said his heart was working fine.

Greene contacted the prison doctor, who instructed her to start an intravenous application and keep the inmate in the infirmary. After several unsuccessful attempts at inserting the IV, they gave up and left Jordan-Aparo in the infirmary overnight, records said.

The next morning, at 4 a.m. Sept. 18, Greene and LPN Lucy Franklin examined Jordan-Aparo, who complained he was in pain and needed to go to the hospital.

Jordan-Aparo, becoming agitated, at one point blurted: “I am going to sue your f------ ass. I need to go to the hospital!"

Greene summoned Capt. Mitchell Brown, who without consulting a doctor, decided to remove Jordan-Aparo from the infirmary and place him in an isolation cell — No. 1104 — for causing a “disturbance,” prison records said.

“Ain’t nobody comin’ to help you,’’ a guard known as Big Jit told Jordan-Aparo, according to witnesses. He then ordered the inmate to “man up’’ and shut up.

Jordan-Aparo’s file was then reviewed. Although his disease could cause respiratory difficulties and the department was aware of his affliction, the file indicated that he “had no known medical condition that would be exacerbated by the use of chemical agents.”

At 11:25 a.m., after receiving approval of Col. Timothy Copeland, the duty warden, Lt. Roland Austin gave the order to gas Jordan-Aparo.

First he was given a “final statement,” telling him why he was being gassed. Then, with video surveillance cameras rolling, Officer James Hamm sprayed three one-second bursts of OC, a concentrated form of pepper spray, striking Jordan-Aparo in the upper torso, Hamm’s report said. Three bursts equaled one application.

At 11:59, Hamm sprayed another three bursts. Approximately six minutes later, after contacting Copeland, Austin gave the order for a third application, this time using tear gas, an agent that causes severe burning in the lungs, particularly in confined spaces.

In all, Jordan-Aparo was subjected to 600 grams of chemical agents in a confined space.

Sven-Eric Jordt, a professor of pharmacology at Duke University who studies the effects of pepper spray and tear gas, said that after just 10 minutes of exposure to the tear gas alone in such a confined space, the concentrations would have been near lethal.

“Obviously, the agent was sprayed directly onto the inmate and may have deposited on his skin, clothing, eyes and mouth at much higher concentrations, with less of it airborne, making the concentrations that much higher,’’ he said.

The guards said they “escorted’’ Jordan-Aparo to a decontamination cell, although inmates would later say that Jordan-Aparo was dragged. Photographs and other evidence raise questions about whether he was decontaminated at all.

“He was orange,’’ one inmate told investigators two years later.

“I can’t take it, I can’t take the gas, I can’t breathe’’ Jordan-Aparo said, according to another inmate interviewed by prison system inspectors in 2013.

Jordan-Aparo was so weak after a shower that guards had to put him in a wheelchair to take him back to his cell. Photographs of his body reviewed by the four inspectors in 2013 show that, despite visiting the shower, he was clearly still coated with residue.

If he and his cell were not properly decontaminated, Jordt and other experts said, Jordan-Aparo would have continued to be exposed to the chemicals, breathing in the toxins — until breathing would become almost impossible.

At about 12:30 p.m. he was taken to the infirmary and examined. Nurse Ola Riley couldn’t get a blood pressure reading because the inmate was uncooperative, prison records said. But she did record wheezing in the lower right lobe of his lung. She and nurse Franklin then contacted the on-call physician, Dr. Mohammad Choudhary, who instructed them to try again to take his blood pressure. Instead, they allowed the guards to take Jordan-Aparo back to his isolation cell.

Nearly two hours later, reports say, Riley and Franklin went to the inmate’s cell in a repeat attempt to take his blood pressure. Jordan-Aparo was unable to move, refused to cooperate and wouldn’t sign a release form, so the nurses left, records said.

At 4:30 p.m. Sgt. Kevin Hampton tried to give Jordan-Aparo his dinner tray and found him sprawled on the floor. He refused to eat. Asked if he was OK, Jordan-Aparo purportedly gave a thumbs-up sign.

Even healthy inmates are supposed to be checked every 30 minutes, but it’s not clear whether anyone looked in on Jordan-Aparo from 4:30 until the time his body was found at 6:08 p.m.

The Herald also reviewed hundreds of documents, including letters and emails, showing that the prison’s then-warden, Diana Andrews, and Miguel had been told from at least 2011 that there were lingering questions about the way Jordan-Aparo had died.

On the night of his death and the following day, another Franklin inmate, Joseph Avram, called his sisters, Kimberly Donovan, and Christina Bullins, who is a probation supervisor with the Department of Corrections. He told them he had witnessed what the guards did to Jordan-Aparo and was worried about his own safety.

Bullins and Donovan began contacting prison officials, repeatedly writing letters. Bullins, who was also a member of the corrections officers’ labor union, said she began receiving threats from her bosses that her job was in jeopardy.

In April 2011, two years before the four inspectors approached Miguel, she contacted the chief inspector general to request whistle-blower protection. The request was denied, the inspectors’ lawsuit says. She was subsequently fired in a dispute over medical leave.


Dr. Lisa Flanagan, the medical examiner who did the autopsy on Jordan-Aparo, didn’t attribute his death to the application of gas. She wrote that the cause was “complications of multiple cardiac and pulmonary abscesses’’ and mentioned the gas only as an explanation for the staining of Jordan-Aparo’s skin.

But in a post-autopsy meeting with FDLE investigators, Flanagan noted that had Jordan-Aparo received timely and proper medical care from the onset of his sickness, he may not have died.

Dr. John Balmes, an inhalation injury expert with the University of California’s Berkeley School of Public Health, said the gassing almost certainly contributed to Jordan-Aparo’s death.

“He had a fever. He passed out. He had a serious blood-born infection and they gave him an irritant gas that can cause fluid in his lungs,” said Balmes, who reviewed records at the request of the Herald. “They gave him something that made him sicker and that gas contributed to his death.’’

Cyril Wecht, a nationally known forensic pathologist who also reviewed the records at the Herald’s request, called the case one of the worst he has ever seen in terms of how many people were involved .

“This prisoner’s abscesses didn’t develop overnight, and for him to have been in the [infirmary] and then to be gassed ... the people who have ignored this in some ways are even more ignorant than the horrible guards and nurses,’’ said Wecht, who has been involved in various high-profile cases, including reviewing the deaths of John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Elvis Presley and Anna Nicole Smith.

Despite evidence of medical neglect and excessive force, no one was charged with a crime. The state attorney’s office for Franklin County reviewed the findings and declined to prosecute.

The FDLE report said: “Though inmate Jordan-Aparo did complain numerous times of medical problems commencing four (4) days prior to this death, it is not the scope of this criminal investigation to address those issues.”

That was based on the information available at that time, said FDLE spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger. When new information became available, the case was reopened and it remains active, she said Saturday.

Suspended with pay are Sgt. Hampton (aka, “Big Jit’’) Lt. Austin and Randall Johnson. A fourth guard, Terry Whitlock, was fired in 2012, though it’s not clear if that was connected to the Jordan-Aparo case, and prison system officials declined to explain.

The on-call doctor, Choudhary, held a temporary certificate to practice medicine in an area of critical need — in this case, the prisons. Five months after Jordan-Aparo’s death, while on call at the Alachua County Jail in Gainesville, he was seen driving erratically, running over curbs, state records show.

He was later found passed out drunk behind the wheel of his car, according to state Department of Health records. A review by the state medical board resulted in a reprimand and a fine, but he kept his license. There is no criminal arrest on his record.

One of the nurses who examined Jordan-Aparo, Patricia Lemon, had her license put on probation for three years prior to coming to Franklin. According to the Florida state nursing board, she was found in 2003 to be forging prescriptions for painkillers. After she served her probation, her license was reinstated, state records show. There is no criminal charge in her name.


Jordan-Aparo, who was serving a 19-month stretch for credit card fraud and drug possession when the guards gassed him, would have been released three months later had he lived.

Instead he was cremated, with the remains sent home to Thomas Aparo in Palm Harbor.

Aparo, who had drifted apart from Shawn and Randall, declined to discuss Randall’s death.

Randall Jordan-Aparo’s brother, Shawn, had plenty to say. He is angry.

“There is no reason he should have passed away, no reason he shouldn’t have been to the hospital,” Shawn said. “I never got a chance to say goodbye.’’

My Response:
In referencing the Department of Corrections in a previous blog, I argued the "organization is riddled with amoral, sadistic, sociopaths and the people who enable and support them." In view of Julie Brown's latest story, this is exactly how the DOC operates. This latest cast of characters defies DOC Secretary Michael Crews' assertions there are "a few bad apples" and that the DOC doesn't have a "culture of cover-up."

Consider the roles of each the people associated directly or indirectly in the death of Randall Jordan-Aparo: Dr. Mohammad Choudhary; nurses Martha Greene, Ola Riley, Lucy Franklin, and Patricia Lemon; Franklin CI warden Diana Andrews, duty warden Col. Timothy Copeland, Lt. Roland Austin, Capt. Mitchell Brown, Officers Randall Johnson, James Hamm, Terry Whitlock, and Sgt. Kevin 'Big Jit' Hampton. Each had a hand in Randall's death whether or not their finger was on the gas trigger. Through their actions or inactions or just plain mediocrity, a man died gasping for breath. All should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.

Some more "bad apples" in this sordid drama: FDLE Investigators - Michael Kennedy and Michael DeVaney; Gov. Scott's chief inspector general, Melinda Miguel. Dr. Lisa Flanagan, and DOC Inspector General Jeffrey Beasley. Poorly investigated right down to the autopsy, the Jordan-Aparo killing would have never seen the light if not for Inspectors Aubrey Land, David Clark, Doug Glisson and John Ulm. Their reward for a job well done: pressure from Beasley to back off the case and denial of whistleblower status from Miguel. Even Christina Bullins, a DOC probation supervisor, began receiving threats from her bosses that her job was in peril for contacting prison officials and writing letters about her concerns surrounding the Jordan-Aparo death. Incidentally, "cover-up" is just another way to say, "obstruction of justice."

Crews has said he won't tolerate “fabrication, lies, deception, retaliation or other unethical behavior." Really? I'm sure Inspectors Aubrey Land, David Clark, Doug Glisson and John Ulm, along with probation supervisor Christina Bullins, would disagree. What is Crews truly doing about the "retaliation" each of these conscientious professionals have suffered? There are many fine people working for the DOC. Apparently though, the good ones are being systematically forced out when it's discovered they're actually doing their jobs.

At his latest press conference, Crews rolled out a few programs and declared "a huge first step" had been taken. In reality, his programs are only the tiniest first step for an organization that has at its core a cancerous culture of abuse, torture, and murder that defies any attempt to change it.

To round out the cast, there is the ever so silent Gov. Rick Scott with his ties to private prison company GEO's George Zoley. Apparently, Scott attended a $10,000 a head Republican fundraiser at Chief Executive Officer Zoley's Boca Raton mansion on July 21, 2014. GEO has been under attack for human rights violations and shoddy medical treatment. It is no secret Scott is a proponent of prison privatization - but at what cost? Where is your leadership Gov. Scott? Money apparently buys silence.

Albert Einstein is famously quoted as saying, "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." It's time for some fresh thinking. Preferably from outside of an organization whose culture is mired in attitudes taken straight from the middle ages.