Florida’s prison system and jails are coming under fire amid a host of inmate injuries and deaths that are alleged to have been caused by abuse and neglect. The Miami Herald reports there were nearly 350 inmates who died in Florida prisons last year. While not all of those are attributed to wrongdoing, it is a record high, despite the fact the number of inmates as a whole has remained largely unchanged.
One of those cases, involving a man who died after suffering severe burns after being locked by guards in a scalding hot shower, has resulted in a federal investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. The 50-year-old inmate at the Dade Correctional Institution in Miami suffered from schizophrenia and was allegedly being punished for refusing to clean feces off the floor of his cell.
An investigation by the Miami Herald, which involved spending more than a year interviewing dozens of witnesses, pouring over hundreds of records and analyzing a number of claims, the paper found alleged abuses included:
- Sexual assaults by officers against inmates;
- Racially motivated beatings;
- Withholding food from inmates in a mental health ward;
- Refusing to secure medical treatment for inmates in dire need.