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: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article2564576.html#storyli
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