May 28, 2015

Results of the Disability Rights Florida Lawsuit Seeking Injunctive Relief at Dade CI Where I Once Worked as a Psychotherapist

Good news!

Below you can read the settlement agreement detailing specific remedies regarding inmate abuse at the Transitional Care Unit at the Dade Correctional Institution (Attachment below article).

Miami Herald reporter Julie Brown's article appeared today and will provide context and background for the settlement.

Progress is being made. How treatment for the mentally ill aids their integration back into society will be the truest test for these mental health reforms. It is essential that the Florida Department of Corrections works to help men and women under their care to leave prison better people than when they went in. Their record so far has been dismal. Unless the deep-rooted culture of corruption, brutality, and secrecy is dismantled, the systemic abuses will continue with the exception of a few small outposts of potential hope as might be possible at the TCU at Dade CI.

George Mallinckrodt

Florida pledges to protect inmates with mental illness


​MAY 28, 2015​

Inmates with mental illnesses who were once confined around the clock to a cell block filled with feces, rotten food and insects — and sometimes allegedly beaten, tortured and starved by staff — should be treated more humanely under a landmark lawsuit settlement reached this week between the Florida Department of Corrections and a statewide disability advocacy group.

The agreement could have far-reaching impact. It requires the state to overhaul the way it treats inmates with mental disorders at Dade Correctional Institution, which has the largest mental health facility in the state prison system.

Disability Rights of Florida brought the action following a series of stories last year in the Miami Herald about guards at Dade Correctional who allegedly used scalding showers and other sadistic forms of discipline to punish and humiliate inmates in the prison’s psychiatric ward, or Transitional Care Unit.

The disability rights group found that the blistering-hot showers, coupled with other physical and mental abuse and a lack of adequate healthcare, were the norm at the institution in June 2012, when 50-year-old inmate Darren Rainey collapsed and died in a shower that had been cranked up to 180 degrees.

Witnesses said that Rainey, who was serving time on a drug charge, was forced into the specially rigged stall by corrections officers, who taunted him as he screamed in panic for nearly two hours until he died.

Other inmates complained that guards forced them to perform sex acts, had them fight each other for the staff’s entertainment, terrorized them with threats and beatdowns and put laxatives and urine in their food. One inmate, Richard Mair, hanged himself after leaving a note detailing alleged atrocities at the hands of officers. Although the prison disciplined some guards for failing to conduct timely security checks the day of the hanging, the agency’s inspector general did little to inquire into Mair’s claims, citing the fact that he was dead and could no longer be questioned.

The advocacy group discovered evidence that officers often targeted those inmates in the unit who suffered from the most severe mental illnesses, and that the medical staff at the prison often failed to report the abuse.

“Mr. Rainey was not the only victim of the shower treatment. What we learned is that, to some extent, those same abuses were affecting others in the unit,’’ said Peter Sleasman, of the Florida Institutional Legal Services Project, which brought the lawsuit for Disability Rights Florida.

Guards who worked in the TCU have been replaced by officers specially trained to handle inmates with mental illnesses, he said. In addition, under the negotiated agreement, experts have been brought in to monitor and evaluate the unit over the next several months. The DOC also has its own experts evaluating the facility and the two parties will come together by year’s end to draw up additional reforms.

Sleasman said that his organization is evaluating other mental health treatment units in prisons around the state, and hopes the reforms implemented at Dade Correctional will be employed at the other facilities.

The agreement is unusual, Sleasman said, because the Department of Corrections cooperated with the advocates to come up with a plan in a timely manner.

The DOC has voluntarily instituted its own reforms, including the addition of an ombudsman to oversee the agency’s mental health programs. At Dade Correctional, additional security cameras have been installed with audio, the facility’s crumbling plumbing and air conditioning systems have been repaired and patients are now allowed to leave their cells for programs and treatment. Medical staffers are required to report any instances of abuse.

DOC spokesman McKinley Lewis said the agency is committed to ensuring proper care, treatment and security for prisoners who suffer from mental illness. Many reforms are already underway at the department’s nine other TCU units around the state, he said.

“Through enhanced training opportunities for staff and the continued development of comprehensive solutions to issues posed by a growing population of mentally ill inmates, the department will continue to expand and enhance our mental health capabilities,” Lewis said.

The agreement is a “work in progress,’’ Sleasman said, noting that there are still a number of issues outside of the agreement that remain unresolved.

Some abuse cases such as Rainey’s remain open three years after they happen, and the agency and law enforcement are taking too long to find out what led to the deaths and injuries involving other inmates in the prison system with mental illnesses, Sleasman said.

Among them is prisoner Rudolf Rowe, who suffered severe brain injuries during an unexplained incident at Union Correctional Institution in 2012 that resulted in guards being dismissed. A second inmate, Frank Smith, died at the same prison around the same time in another still-unexplained incident. Three years later, the cases are still pending.

“I don’t know exactly what the inspector general is doing. How long does it take to investigate these cases?’’ Sleasman said.

The U.S. Department of Justice recently began a criminal inquiry into Rainey’s death, as well as other alleged violations of the Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment at Dade Correctional.

May 23, 2015

Human Rights Group Urges Florida Department of Corrections Secretary to Take Action on Behalf of Mentally Ill Inmates

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                        Contact: S.P.A.N.
May 21, 2015                                                                                                                                                                                           

Human Rights Group Urges Florida Department of Corrections
Secretary to Take Action on Behalf of Mentally Ill Inmates

Miami - SPAN (Stop Prison Abuse Now), an interdisciplinary group concerned about the treatment of inmates with mental illness, sent a letter to DOC Secretary Julie Jones requesting that she implement systemic reforms to protect inmates from abuse and torture at the hands of guards. SPAN was created in May 2014 to advocate for the humane treatment of inmates in the FL DOC with particular attention on the mentally ill.

SPAN is concerned that the Florida Department of Corrections has created conditions of confinement that endanger the health and safety of inmates, conditions that have resulted in the torture and death of inmates, particularly inmates with mental illness, and has called on Secretary Jones to implement a series of recommendations put forth by SPAN to address the culture of abuse that currently exists.

SPAN's advocacy has included: 

· Creation of a petition in June 2014 to Eric Holder calling for a Department of Justice investigation of the 2012 death of Darren Rainey, a mentally ill Florida prisoner who died after prison guards locked him into a 180-degree shower. Over 205,000 people have signed so far. 

· A formal request to the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department to open a statewide investigation of conditions of confinement in Florida's prisons, a request that is pending before Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

· A meeting with State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle and her Assistant State Attorneys in October 2014 to establish what investigative measures were taken on behalf of Darren Rainey. SPAN continues to follow the investigation closely.

· Testimony before Florida’s Senate and House committees to provide personal insight into personal experiences with the Florida Department of Corrections.

· Mobilization of SPAN supporters throughout the state in April 2015 to encourage lawmakers to pass meaningful legislation to address conditions of confinement of inmates and reports of abuse and torture by prison guards.

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May 20, 2015

One Year Exactly Since Coming Forward Publicly in Miami Herald Reporter Julie Brown's Second Prison Brutality Story

Today, May 20th, is the one year anniversary since I came forward in the Miami Herald article entitled, Former workers describe 'chronic' torture. That day, at my girlfriend Debbie's insistence, I was going to change the title of my book from GETTING AWAY WITH MURDER to THE HUMAN WAREHOUSE. Upon reading the story, my girlfriend retracted and said, "I guess you can't change it now!"

I started writing my book in August 2012 in frustration over the many dead ends I encountered while trying to get Darren Rainey justice. In Chapter 1, The Murder, I wrote: I knew that once something was put into motion, outcomes could become wildly unpredictable. Little did I know this would be the case and then some. Never in my wildest imagination, and I've got a wild one, could I have predicted the events that unfolded, people I have met, and the impact on the issue of prison brutality  that I've had.

Before I launch into a brief recap of the year, I'd like to give credit to the many reporters who bit into this issue like a rabid pit bull and shook it violently until the dirty secrets of the FL DOC started landing all around us. Apparently, corruption, retaliation, brutality, and secrecy have plagued the FL DOC for years.

Miami Herald - Julie Brown, Fred Grimm, Mary Ellen Klaus, and editor Casey Frank. Over 70 articles and op-eds detailing abuses have been published so far. Brown won three journalistic awards. Many other Herald reporters contributed as well. I even managed to get my opinion piece published. For them, it's not about selling newspapers, it's about doing the right thing.

Palm Beach Post - Pat Beall did a terrific series exposing the rampant medical negligence of private medical providers Corizon Health and Wexford. Between them they have nearly 1700 malpractice lawsuits pending. Beall also won a national journalism award.

Sun-Sentinel - Mike Mayo interviewed me soon after I had met him on the set of Michael Putney's show, This Week in South Florida, where I appeared with Julie Brown and Judge Steve Leifman.

Many other reporters contributed as well: Sascha Cordner - WFSU, Garin Flowers - WTSP, and Nicole Flatow - ThinkProgress, to name a few.

My major highlights for the year include:

·                 Publishing GETTING AWAY WITH MURDER the first week in August 2014.

·                 Launching my book at Book & Books with the help of owner Mitch Kaplan. He supports many local authors as an independent bookseller.

·                 Being asked by Civil Rights attorneys Parks & Crump to speak at a press conference in Tallahassee for Latandra Ellington who was killed in prison under very suspicious circumstances. 

·                 Speaking before the Senate Criminal Justice Committee about my work as a psychotherapist in the prison psychiatric ward at the Dade Correctional Institution. Talking at length with Chairman Senator Evers in person before the hearing gave me a good sense of the man. He's determined to fix the FL DOC. Two weeks later the CJC put forth prison reform bill SB 7020.

·                 Being a guest on more than a dozen radio and TV shows including some Spanish shows. I've posted about half on my website so far.

Perhaps the best highlight was a Miami Herald story published today entitled, Scalding-shower death in Dade prison prompts federal probe. The US Department of Justice's Civil Rights division has started an investigation into the death of Darren Rainey. Perhaps there will be justice after all. Maybe it will be the beginning of a deep house-cleaning in the FL DOC. Time will tell… 


May 2, 2015

Response to Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Julie Jones' Press Release and Letter to Medical Examiner Dr. Hyma

George's Note: I sent this out to the same media outlets that the FL DOC did. Before you read my response to Julie Jones, please scroll down and read her press release and letter.

My name is George Mallinckrodt. I worked for nearly three years as a psychotherapist in a Florida state prison psychiatric ward at the Dade Correctional Institution. In the ward known as the Transitional Care Unit, mentally ill inmates on my caseload were tormented, beaten, and tortured. 

After I no longer worked there, an inmate named Darren Rainey was killed by corrections officers. Since coming forward publicly in an early Miami Herald article, I have advocated for the humane treatment of inmates in prison, especially the mentally ill.

Today, May 1st, Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Julie Jones issued a press release and sent a letter to Medical Examiner Dr. Hyma regarding "the true facts and findings resulting from your investigation" of the scalding death of Darren Rainey on June 23, 2012. While it is laudable that Jones is requesting action, her tone is disingenuous.

I'm really disturbed that Julie Jones portrays the DOC as having "worked collaboratively" with a number of investigative agencies, including the FBI, "since the initiation of this investigation." This smacks of a history revised, if not an outright lie. Let's be clear. The FL DOC dropped the ball along with everyone else in the months after Rainey's killing. In fact, on October 12, 2012, I personally met with FBI agents in their Homestead office. Despite my vivid description of how I heard Darren Rainey was killed, they passed on an investigation. In other words, the FBI was not even in the picture then.

Until the Miami Herald stories by Julie Brown, Rainey's case was closed. In the first week of October 2014, a group I'm a member of, Stop Prison Abuse Now, met with Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle and four of her top Assistant State Attorneys. We were told that the case had been classified as "an in custody death from natural causes." For that reason, Rundle claimed Rainey's file never crossed her desk and that the first she heard of it was reading the Miami Herald stories. So, another agency that was not involved in the original third rate investigation.

All this supposed cooperation only happened after pressure from the Herald and human rights groups. The DOC response: the release of a slew of unreadable redacted documents related to the Rainey slaying. If the DOC was so keen on finding out the "true facts," the corrections officers who put Rainey in the shower to die would have been arrested over two years ago! It sickens me that the DOC is made to look like it has taken the high road. Julie Jones' letter and press release should be seen for what they are: well crafted self-serving rhetoric designed to make the DOC look like something it's not - concerned, accountable, and transparent.

A final thought. At the bottom of Julie Jones' letter there is this:

Trust * Respect * Accountability * Integrity * Leadership

I have seen little in the last six plus years of my total experience of the DOC to suggest these notions are anything but a wish list. Just because it is written doesn't mean it's true! Be true to your words, prove to "the people of Florida" the Florida Department of Corrections is deserving of these labels. I for one will not be holding my breath.

George Mallinckrodt

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                   Contact: DOC Communications
May 1, 2015                                                              (850) 488-0420

Secretary Julie Jones Urges Medical Examiner to Release Findings

TALLAHASSEE – Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Julie Jones today sent a letter to Dr. Bruce A. Hyma, Chief Medical Examiner in Miami-Dade County, requesting that the Medical Examiner’s Office in Miami-Dade County expedite the release of its findings in the death of Darren Rainey.

Since the initiation of this investigation by the Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD), the Florida Department of Corrections has worked collaboratively with the MDPD, the Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner’s Office, State Attorney’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and United States Department of Justice. The Department will continue to fully cooperate with our law enforcement partners and employ all available resources to ensure that a thorough investigation is completed as expeditiously as possible.

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The world is in greater peril from those who tolerate or encourage evil than from those who actually commit it.

Albert Einstein