July 31, 2016

After the Radio Show Today, A Distraught Mother Shares Her Story About the Death of Her Mentally Ill Daughter

George's Note:
After hearing me on syndicated columnist Bobby Rodrigo's radio show, I Take Liberty With My Coffee (LINK), Alvina S. Harris sent me this email that she gave me permission to blog. I've taken the liberty of editing it slightly.

Hi George,

On 12/13/13, my 36-year-old mentally ill daughter, Shanike Miller, was in jail in Leon County, Fl, for allegedly stealing from CVS. She was given the psych drug Tegretol, which caused acute liver failure that resulted in her death. Corizon Health gave her the medication. When my daughter was transferred to Shands Hospital, Corizon Health told doctors my daughter was a possible O.D. (overdose) inmate and that she took Tylenol which caused liver damage. I buried my daughter thinking she'd taken her own life; Corizon doctors would not talk to me about what happened to her.

Months later after I got autopsy report, that's when I found out about all the psych drugs they were giving my mentally ill daughter, who according to their nurse's notes, "was hearing voices" in her cell, but they deemed her stable enough to consent to drugs that could possibly cause death. I’ve asked the Department of Justice to investigate and so has Senator Bill Nelson. 2 ½ years later, I still have no answers or justice for my daughter. I was very very close to my daughter, I talked to her all the time, she was loved by many, many, many people. If something like this could happen to my daughter and get covered up, imagine what is happening to all the other homeless people or people who have no families looking out for them.

My daughter was mentally ill, she repeatedly came into contact with the police, we always bailed her out. I was afraid the police were going to hurt my daughter while arresting her because of her mental illness and her aggressiveness while she was manic, so I decided not to bail her out. I thought she’d be safe in jail until we could get her into a hospital. I never thought in a million years something like this could happen to my daughter—I thought I was keeping her safe. On December 6, 2013, a psychiatrist, Dr. Leland, evaluated my daughter and his report to the public defender was to have her hospitalized. The public defender said she never saw the report; 10 days later my daughter is medically injured by Corizon Health doctors and dies a week and half later.

Finally, my mentally ill daughter, Shanike Miller, was given the death sentence for stealing out of CVS by Leon County Jail and Corizon Healthand it was sanctioned by Governor Rick Scott because no one has been punished and there has been no justice for my daughter.

Alvina S. Harris

George's Note:
Here is a follow-up email from Alvina that provides more clarity into the no-win decisions parents often face in dealing with their mentally ill children. I tracked down this propaganda directly from Corizon's website:


Alvina - Yes you may (blog my email). I want my daughter’s story told, I want justice for my daughter. I’ve been in a deep depression since my daughter died and every day I feel so much guilt and shame—I let my daughter down.  Yes, she was 36, an adult and my only child, but I still felt very responsible for her. I still feel responsible for her even though she’s not here anymore. The last few conversations I had with my daughter while she was in jail were about her going into a hospital to get stabilized. She asked, "Mom, do you really think I need to go into a mental hospital?" I said, "Yes Nikkie, you do, trust me, I love you, you need help and I will be there making sure you’re OK."  

Thursday, December 13, 2013, I told my daughter I was coming to see her the following weekend. I was going to bail her out and get her other warrants lifted—she had a few due to stealing. One week later, Thursday, December 19, 2013, the Leon County Sheriff called me and told me my daughter was in the hospital. My husband and I rushed to Tallahassee from Ft. Lauderdale, then to Shands Hospital. My daughter never woke up and died a week and half later.  Even worse, I buried my daughter thinking she’d taken her own life, because Corizon Health said she may have taken an overdose of Tylenol, which was not the case—it was the psych drugs according to the medical examiner. I thought I was keeping my daughter safe and trying to help her, instead in some way, I feel like I contributed to her death by trying to show her “tough love” by not bailing her out until she consented and agreed to take her medication and to be hospitalized.

People want to dispute the “Black Lives Matter” and “All Lives Matter” slogans. Well, “Mentally Ill Lives Matter;” no color or race is involved as mental illness does not discriminate.  Mentally ill people are the most vulnerable and most times can’t speak for themselves.

My mentally ill 36-year-old daughter was given a death sentence by Leon County Jail and Corizon Health and sanctioned by Governor Rick Scott. I’m going to keep saying that because it’s what I believe.

July 25, 2016

Update on Efforts in Florida and New York to get Darren Rainey Justice.


I've been a bit silent on emails and blogs lately and wanted to post an update about happenings in Florida and New York.

On June 23rd, the four year anniversary of Darren Rainey's scalding death, a group of concerned citizens and members of SPAN met for a protest rally in front of State Attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundle's office. Despite the Miami heat and a bomb scare two blocks away at the courthouse, we had a good turnout and coverage from the press. Many thanks to those who attended, one as far away as
St. Petersburg, FL!

4 years after inmate's brutal death, no punishment | Miami Herald

Protesters Demand Answers & Action In Death Of Inmate Darren Rainey
Michele Gillen - Investigative Reporter - CBS4 Miami

On anniversary of inmate’s death, prison reform supporters rally | Miami Heraldhttp://www.miamiherald.com/news/state/article85515502.html

http://wiod.iheart.com/articles/wiodam-local-news-122821/rally-against-prison-abuse-at-state-14840820/ - WIOD erroneously reported that I founded SPAN - I'm only a member!

New York
Many know that my primary objective is to elevate Darren Rainey's story to the national level to expose not only what happens in Florida to the severely mentally ill, but to also begin a dialogue regarding the 20% of severely mentally ill in all prisons and jails in the U.S. Before I traveled to NY to make it happen, I was a guest on Cat Watters' radio show, ORGANIC NEWS, along with Pastor Kenneth Glascow:

When I got to New York, Cat became my de facto press agent and media specialist. She lined me up with numerous interview opportunities. If I could afford to, I'd hire her on the spot! I owe her a debt of gratitude for all she's done for me. 

Here's a sampling of appearances on Radio and TV while in NY:

Ralph Nader Radio Hour - my segment starts at the 33:00 minute mark.

David Feldman Show - According to Wikipedia, David is an Emmy award winning comedy writer, stand-up comedian and podcaster/radio host. He's written for The Academy Awards, The Emmys, Triumph The Insult Dog Comic and countless roasts on Comedy Central. Over the past few years he has written with and for Steve Martin, Martin Short, Robin Williams, Nathan Lane, Robert Smigel and Bette Midler. He is a co-host on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour.

Chris Hedges - ON CONTACT - taped July 22nd, air date TBA in August. From Chris's Wiki bio: Hedges spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa, and the Balkans. He has reported from more than fifty countries, and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, NPR, Dallas Morning News, and The New York Times, where he was a foreign correspondent for fifteen years (1990–2005).

In 2002 Hedges was part of a group of eight reporters at The New York Times awarded the Pulitzer Prize for the paper's coverage of global terrorism. He also received the Amnesty International Global Award for Human Rights Journalism in 2002. He has taught at Columbia University, New York University, Princeton University, and the University of Toronto. He currently teaches prisoners at a maximum-security prison in New Jersey.

Future Appearances - Next week will find me on Harlem Radio with Ricky Jones who hosts Unlocked, a show focusing on prison issues airing Wednesday August 3rd at 4pm. http://whcr.org/artists/unlocked-with-ricky-jones/  Listen Live: http://whcr.org/whcrstream-m3u/

August 4th - Book presentation at Revolution Books - 437 Malcolm X Blvd, New York, NY 10037
Come out and support Revolution Books! I will autograph all copies of Getting Away With Murder - profits to go to the bookstore.