[Pnews] Record 346 inmates die, dozens of guards fired in Florida prisons

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Jan 15 10:16:13 EST 2015


*Record 346 inmates die, dozens of guards fired in Florida prisons*

*http://m.dailykos.com/story/2015/01/14/1357661/-Poisonings-beatings-gassings-Record-346-inmates-die-dozens-of-guards-fired-in-Florida-prisons*
Jan 14, 2015 11:20am PST by Shaun King

<http://m.dailykos.com/story/2015/01/14/1357661/-Poisonings-beatings-gassings-Record-346-inmates-die-dozens-of-guards-fired-in-Florida-prisons#> 

The United States has a prison crisis of epic proportions. With just 
five percent of the world population, but 25 percent of the world's 
prisoners 
<http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2014/09/17/3568232/the-united-states-had-even-more-prisoners-in-2013/>, 
the United States has, far and away, the highest incarceration rate 
<http://www.prisonpolicy.org/global/>, the largest number of prisoners 
<http://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/pie.html>, and the largest 
percentage of citizens with a criminal record of any country in the world.

The highly respected Prison Policy Initiative breaks it down 
<http://www.prisonpolicy.org/global/>:

    The U.S. incarcerates 716 people for every 100,000 residents, more
    than any other country. In fact, our rate of incarceration is more
    than five times higher than most of the countries in the world.
    Although our level of crime is comparable to those of other stable,
    internally secure, industrialized nations, the United States has an
    incarceration rate far higher than any other country.

    Nearly all of the countries with relatively high incarceration rates
    share the experience of recent large-scale internal conflict. But
    the United States, which has enjoyed a long history of political
    stability and hasn’t had a civil war in nearly a century and a half,
    tops the list.

    If we compare the incarceration rates of individual U.S. states and
    territories with that of other nations, for example, we see that 36
    states and the District of Columbia have incarceration rates higher
    than that of Cuba, which is the nation with the second highest
    incarceration rate in the world.

Now, what we are learning is that the United States is not just 
imprisoning people at an outrageous pace, but that men and women are 
dying in these prisons at all-time highs, often at the hands of guards, 
in the most awful and brutal ways imaginable. The state of Florida, it 
appears, is ground zero for the deaths of prisoners, and the crisis is 
so deeply corrupt and out of hand that it needs immediate national 
intervention.

In 2014, Florida recorded at least 346 deaths inside of their prison 
system, an all-time high for the state 
<http://www.dc.state.fl.us/pub/mortality/> in spite of the fact that its 
overall prison population has hovered around 100,000 people for the five 
previous years. Hundreds of these deaths 
<http://news.wjct.org/post/doj-investigate-florida-prison-system> from 
2014 and from previous years are now under investigation by the DOJ 
because of the almost unimaginable role law enforcement officers are 
playing in them.

Below the fold I will highlight some of the most egregious stories.

Jerry Washington filed a sexual harassment complaint against two 
officers in the Santa Rosa Correctional Institute. A few days later, 
after the officers learned of the complaint, they threatened to kill 
Jerry. Jerry filed another complaint with the prison about the death 
threats. Afraid for his safety, he wrote his sister a letter and 
included copies of both of the grievances he had filed. You can read the 
letter and copies of the complaints here 
<http://www.miamiherald.com/incoming/article4459469.ece/binary/Jerry%20Washington%27s%20grievances%20and%20letters%20to%20his%20sisters>. 
In the letter he tells her very clearly that if anything happens to him, 
she should know that it wasn't an accident.

Seven days later, Jerry Washington was killed in prison. According to 
the /Miami Herald/ 
<http://www.miamiherald.com/news/special-reports/florida-prisons/article4458707.html>:

    In letters to the family, two of Washington’s fellow inmates claimed
    that several corrections officers warned the inmate that they were
    going to “f--- him up,” when they returned to the prison for their
    weekend shift.

    “They were going to get him that weekend, which would have been on
    pick-a-nigga Friday,” one wrote Washington’s family, using a slang
    version of the n-word. “It’s a saying that the officers have ...
    that comes from slavery when the master goes to the slave quarters
    on Friday to pick a nigger to hang.”

    In detail, the inmate, whose name is being withheld by the Miami
    Herald, claimed that one of the sergeants placed drugs in
    Washington’s food that day and an orderly served the 5-foot-8 inmate
    his poisoned meal that afternoon.

    By dinnertime, Washington was seriously ill, inmates told DOC
    inspectors. He was found sprawled in his cell at 9:20 p.m. on Sept.
    16, but he was still alive, and officers and other staff reported he
    was able to sit up and talk.

Jerry died a few hours later and the family has been given few details 
on what happened after 9:20 PM until he was pronounced dead at 6 AM the 
following day.

    What isn’t redacted from the report is the bulk of statements
    provided to the DOC’s investigator by seven inmates — most of whom
    told the same story: that Washington feared for his life and that
    Sgt. Marcus Stokes, Officer Pugh and Officer Charles Asbel were
    conspiring to harm him because he had filed complaints against them.

    One inmate, Aaron Porter, went further — stating to inspectors that
    he overheard Stokes, Pugh and Asbel planning their revenge on Sept. 16.

Before we move on to the next case of the murder of Randall 
Jordan-Aparo, Jerry Washington and his fellow inmates in Santa Rosa 
mentioned in their letters to Jerry's family that they were being 
"gassed" by the guards. Jerry thought it might actually cause him to 
die.  Jerry and a fellow inmate both mention it here,

    “I just want you to know how they are playing,” Washington wrote. “I
    got real, real, real bad blood pressure, and if they gas me and jump
    on me [and] I happen to have a stroke or a heart attack ... don’t
    ya’ll believe nothing they try to tell y’all.”

    He enclosed copies of the grievances he had sent to the inspector
    general’s office and told them to call several sexual violence
    groups, including one in Florida.

    At the same time, the fellow inmate was also writing the Washington
    family about alleged prison abuses and said he had been sexually
    harassed like Washington. He claimed corrections officers were
    watching them and making sexual remarks to them in the showers,
    gassing them for no reason and refusing to feed them.

I had actually never heard of inmates being gassed before until the 
death of Randall Jordan-Aparo. He died, completely covered in the gas, 
his body a tinted orange, with stains of it on the wall of his cell as 
shown in the picture below.

According to the /Miami Herald/ 
<http://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/article1985286.html>:

    Randall Jordan-Aparo died weeping and gasping for breath on the
    concrete floor of his prison isolation cell, naked except for his
    white boxer shorts.

    Incensed that he had cursed at a nurse, guards at Franklin
    Correctional Institution in the Panhandle fired nine blasts of
    noxious gas into his 13-by-8 cell through a slot in the door and,
    ultimately, left him there, sobbing.

    “I can’t breathe, I can’t take it no more, please help me,’’ he pleaded.

    Five hours later, the 27-year-old was found lifeless, face-down on
    the bare slab. His mouth and nose were pressed to the bottom of the
    door, as if trying to gulp fresh air through the thin crack. His
    hair, legs, toes, torso and mouth were dusted with a faint orange
    residue, a byproduct of the gas. A paperback Bible was under his
    shoulder.

    The Florida Department of Law Enforcement sent two investigators,
    Michael Kennedy and Michael DeVaney, to look into what had occurred.
    Their conclusion, summarized in one paragraph: The “disciplinary
    actions” taken by guards had no bearing on the death.

    “They just said he got sick,’’ Jordan-Aparo’s father, Thomas Aparo,
    recalled being told by corrections officials.

Hearing these claims, inspectors from the state began looking into the 
case right away. After reporting their findings, they began suffering 
retaliation themselves almost immediately.

    They interviewed inmates, studied the use-of-force report, the video
    captured by surveillance cameras, audio of the incident and
    photographs of Jordan-Aparo’s body. Among their findings:

    •  A claim by prison staffers that Jordan-Aparo was being
    “disorderly” before his death was false.
    •  Initial reports downplayed the fact that Jordan-Aparo was
    complaining about experiencing extreme pain and simply wanted
    medical attention, preferably in a hospital.
    •  Contrary to claims that his cell had been decontaminated after
    the gassing, photos clearly showed residue everywhere — orange
    smears on the floor, in the sink and in the toilet bowl. There was a
    dense orange cloud above the bunk where Jordan-Aparo would have sat.
    •  Although reports said Jordan-Aparo was issued a fresh set of
    clothing after the gassing, he was dressed only in dirty,
    orange-stained boxers.
    •  Nobody assigned to investigate the matter administratively from
    the Department of Corrections watched the “use of force” video
    showing Jordan-Aparo being gassed.
    Their conclusion: Jordan-Aparo died as a result of medical
    negligence and the “sadistic, retaliatory” use of chemical agents on
    a sick and helpless inmate who did nothing wrong. And that staff
    reports following the death contained inconsistencies, errors,
    omissions and outright lies.

Less than a year away from being released, Latandra Ellington wrote a 
disturbing letter to her aunt detailing that an officer in the prison 
was threatening to beat and murder her. Neal Colgrass from Newser 
<http://www.newser.com/story/196984/inmate-writes-chilling-letter-ends-up-dead.html> 
details the short time frame between Latandra writing her aunt the 
letter, her aunt calling the prison, and Latandra being found beaten to 
death.

    On Sept. 21, Latandra Ellington wrote her aunt about prison officer
    "Sgt. Q" who, she says, threatened to beat and murder her. Further,
    he would flip his badge around to obscure his name. Wrote Ellington,
    "Auntie, no one knows how to spell or say this man’s name. But he
    goes by Sgt. Q and he works the B Shift a.m." Her concerned aunt
    called the Lowell Correctional Institution on Sept. 30 and talked to
    an officer who said he would "look after" Ellington. The next day,
    the 36-year-old was dead. A private autopsy paid for by the family
    shows that Ellington—who had seven months left to serve—died of
    blunt-force trauma to her stomach consistent with kicking and
    punching, according to the family's lawyer.

While Reuters reports 
<http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/09/21/us-usa-prison-florida-idUSKBN0HG05120140921> 
that 32 prison guards and officers were fired across the state this past 
September related to dozens of cases of abuse, corruption, and death, 
one should lose a lot more than their job for poisoning, gassing, or 
beating inmates to death. This is not enough. It's not even close to 
being enough. These officers should be indicted and convicted of murder 
and given the stiffest penalty allowed under law. They've not only 
abused their power, but they've abused it at the expense of citizens who 
are virtually defenseless in our country. It's unacceptable.

With the hope that it motivates you to push the cause of prison reform 
and justice for the officers who murdered these men and women, I'd like 
to tell you the story of Darren Rainey.

Fifty years old, battling mental illness, and serving two years in the 
psychiatric ward of the Dade County prison for the victimless nonviolent 
offense of cocaine possession without the intent to distribute, Darren 
Rainey would soon experience a death so cruel and so violent and so 
unthinkably heinous that we would expect such a thing to happen only in 
a country governed by a so-called evil dictator. It's almost too ugly to 
type.

After allegedly defecating in his cell, Rainey was handcuffed and locked 
into a tight shower cell and blasted for nearly two hours with water 
that was over 180 scolding hot degrees in temperature. Begging for his 
life, screaming apologies and remorse so loud that other inmates could 
hear them, the officers kept the water so hot and forceful that the 
steam began to melt off Darren Rainey's skin. Video shows Rainey forced 
into the shower at 7:38 PM and he was pronounced dead at 9:30 PM.

Mark Joiner, a prisoner in Dade County, was called in to clean up the 
chunks of skin left behind. He detailed it for the /Miami Herald/: 
<http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article1972693.html#storylink=cpy>

    Mark Joiner was roused from his cell earlier than usual on June 24,
    2012.

    He was handed a bottle of Clorox and was told it was clean-up time.

    Joiner was used to cleaning up cells in Dade Correctional
    Institution’s psychiatric ward, and many of them were frequently
    brimming with feces and urine, insect-infested food and other filth.

    Joiner thought he pretty much had seen it all, from guards nearly
    starving prisoners to death, to taunting and beating them
    unconscious while handcuffed for sport. He recalls one inmate was
    paid a pack of cigarettes to attack one sick inmate whose only
    offense was to ask if their mail could be delivered before bedtime.

    On the floor of a small shower stall he was ordered to clean, he saw
    a single blue canvas shoe and what he later realized was large
    chunks of human skin.

    The skin belonged to Darren Rainey, a 50-year-old mentally-ill
    prisoner whom the guards had handcuffed and locked in the cell the
    night before. Witnesses and DOC reports indicate Rainey was left in
    the scalding hot water for hours, allegedly as punishment for
    defecating in his cell.

Rainey's official cause of death, in a clear case of a coverup, was 
listed a heart attack, but Mark Joiner and other officials, know otherwise.

    Joiner remembered and said he also later made a written record of
    what he saw and heard the night Rainey died.

    He had a view of some of what happened and was ordered to clean up
    the shower the following morning. He said he placed all the skin he
    found in Rainey’s shoe.

    “I heard them lock the shower door, and they were mocking him,”
    Joiner said, as the guards turned on their retrofitted shower full
    blast and steam began to fill the ward.

    “He was crying, please stop, please stop,” Joiner said. And they
    just said “Enjoy your shower, and left.”

    Joiner went to sleep, not knowing that it would be the last time he
    would see or hear Rainey alive. Witnesses would later say that after
    two hours, at temperatures of 180 degrees, Rainey collapsed, with
    his skin peeling from his body. Rainey, who was serving a two-year
    term for possession of drugs, was carried to the prison’s infirmary
    where a nurse later said his body temperature was so high it
    couldn’t be measured with a thermometer.

Darren Rainey, tragically, had only one month to go in his sentence.
-- 
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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