In 2012, a 50-year-old Darren Rainey was killed in a scalding hot shower, as stated by witnesses and lawyers. The US state attorney has closed the case, stating that the death was an ‘accident’.
However, civil rights organizations have rejected the ruling as overlooking the brutality of prison guards. In June 2012, four guards trapped Rainey, a schizophrenic, in a shower at Florida’s Dade Correctional Institute for two hours, as stated by Al Jazeera News.
He was found dead lying face up in the shower, his skin red and slipping off.
Prisoners stated they heard Rainey scream for help saying that the water was “too hot”. Furthermore, they saw steam coming out of the shower, and that CPR was not performed. Rainey was given the hot shower as ‘punishment’.
While a prison nurse said that Rainey’s body felt hot, she said a sergeant did perform CPR.
According to Al Jazeera News, on Friday, the office of Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle released a 101-page report saying Rainey’s cause of death was “an accident”.
The report stated: “Facts and evidence, in this case do not meet the required elements for the filing of any criminal charge … none of the correctional officers at Dade CI are criminally responsible for the death.”
In a statement sent to Al Jazeera on Monday, Howard Simon, American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) Florida executive director, said: “Just because the state attorney found that the standards to secure a criminal conviction was not met does not mean that corrections officers did not do something horribly wrong.
“Changes need to be made in our corrections department to ensure that guards are held responsible when their actions, negligent or willful, result in the death of an inmate.”
Florida’s prison is America’s third largest prison system behind California and Texas, holding over 100,000 prisoners.
However, when Rundle’s report was presented, citizens became furious.
Protestors on social media said they would stand outside of Rundle’s office on Tuesday to demand her resignation.
“We’re fully aware of [the planned protest],” a spokeswoman from Rundle’s office told Al Jazeera, refusing to comment further about Rainey’s death.According to Human Rights Watch, there are around 2.37 million people in American prisons, the largest reported incarcerated population in the world.
“Jail and prison staff throughout the US use unnecessary, excessive, and even malicious force against prisoners with mental disabilities,” the group said in its 2016 annual report.
The associate director of the Florida-based Human Rights Defense Center stated that it was not a surprise that Rainey’s case was closed by the state attorney but that his death was “utterly preventable”.
“Florida specifically has a long and sordid history of prisoners being killed by guards,” he said. “There are systemic failures at every step, from preventing abuse, investigating, and holding them accountable.”