May 21, 2014

Why Should Anybody Care About Darren Rainey?

I've been asked this question in various forms since I started writing Getting Away With Murder nearly two years ago. "They're just criminals - they deserve what they get," was another common response. The implication was that Darren Rainey deserved to be scalded to death in a locked shower in a Florida state prison psychiatric ward. Really? It's not surprising I take great exception to this entire sentiment for a number of reasons.

Number one would be the fact that Darren Rainey was chronically mentally ill. I have it on good authority he was smearing his own feces on his cell door window for starters. He was so psychologically compromised that he was never taken out of his cell for counseling. He was sentenced to two years for related drug charges. His torture and murder, in essence, meant that his two year sentence morphed into a death sentence. The justice system, which includes correctional officers, prosecutors, public defenders, judges, and psychologists to name a few, is most assuredly broken when it comes to the mentally ill. In the Middle Ages, the mentally ill were thrown into dungeons to be beaten, tortured, and killed. What's changed?

Secondly, a whole host of scenarios may arise whereby law abiding citizens find themselves swept up into the legal system. We've all heard the story of someone who has one too many drinks at an office party then proceeds to drive under the influence. Most make it home fine. But for the few who cause bodily harm or death, incarceration may be in their future. How should guards treat these otherwise productive members of society who made a horrible mistake? Beat, torture, and kill them?

Thirdly, what kind of society do we want to live in? This is a fundamental question whose answer has far ranging implications beyond the question of the treatment of mentally ill inmates. What does it say about us that we would tolerate this type of behavior?

Fourthly, approximately 80% of inmates will be returned to society. How many of these men have suffered at the hands of guards only to emerge from prison with an enormous chip on their shoulders. Guards who abuse inmates are making society less safe for all of us. There must be a hidden cost to consider. And how about the police who pull these guys over in a routine traffic stop… 

So, a few thoughts from me. Would love to hear from you...    


  1. Paul MaguireJune 19, 2014

    Our recent history of violent behavior by members of society is replete with instances of them becoming so frustrated with their conditions that they act out……..usually, violently……..The Newtown Massacre; Columbine; The Navy Yard shooters; The mother who drowned her children in NC; Julie Snedeker in Florida………ALL exhibited mental issues and should have been treated for psychiatric tendencies. We all know someone or of someone that fits this picture. Even those who never made it to the justice system didn’t get the right treatment. However, more to the point here, those who have made it to the justice system will likely wind up in prison (Julie Snedeker, case in point). Will she & others like her get (any) mental counseling while she serves Life without parole? Wouldn’t she have been better served in getting help during her trials and before she killed her kids? This is not to blame society for those who didn’t get help, because, especially in her case, having been an honorably discharged soldier, the VA could have helped provide that…….assuming, of course, that she sought it out and that the mentally ill were not part of the “let’s delay veterans appointments” recent scandal. Back to the point at hand. I agree with George Mallinckrodt’s position that such people belong in the mental health system, not the prison system. Surely, if they were they’d get qualified help instead of beatings, etc. Secondly, given his expose of the prison guards, they need to be held accountable for their atrocities to such people………and that includes the warden of each institution! Also, maybe the prison system overall needs to be audited to see what the criteria are that are required to become a DOC guard. Sounds to me as if these guards were mean guys to begin with. How are they vetted? I’m not calling for “nice, sociable guys” who will never need to exercise physical force, but rather I AM SAYING THEY SHOULD NOT BE SADISTIC PEOPLE THEMSELVES because they obviously already work in an environment where they’re not held accountable for their current actions. TIME FOR A CLEAN UP OF THE SYSTEM!

    Paul Maguire

    1. Thanks Paul for a great comment! Right on target. Instead of funding mental health facilities, we close them down and leave the desperate to fend for themselves. Where do they end up? IN PRISON! Our prisons have become repositories for the mentally ill where they are treated no better than they were in the Middle Ages - beaten, tortured, and killed.


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George Mallinckrodt