Federal Probe Rips Miami-Dade Corrections, Calls Jails Unconstitutional

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A years-long investigation into the Miami-Dade Corrections Department claims to have uncovered a “pattern and practice of constitutional violations” in jail operations, with prisoners suffering “grievous harm, including death” as a result of the unconstitutional operation.

The findings mirrored in part conditions revealed in an award-winning series of reports by CBS4 Investigative Reporter Michele Gillen under the name “The Forgotten Floor”.

The report, made public Friday, is the result of a probe started by the US Department of Justice Civil Rights Division in 2008. The 40-page report detailed findings of a three and a half year investigation, and represents a scathing indictment of the corrections system.


In part, investigators found that:

  • Miami-Dade Corrections is “deliberately indifferent to suicide risks” and mental health needs of prisoners, resulting in 8 suicides and thousands of prisoners receiving inadequate mental health care
  • Miami-Dade corrections fails to provide adequate care and discharge services to patients with mental illness.
  • Miami-Dade Corrections is “deliberately indifferent” to the serious medical needs of prisoners, with inmates waiting “weeks and even months” to receive some medical services. The investigation also found that inmates did not receive proper health screening when they entered the system, with at least 5 prisoners dying of an undiagnosed overdose since 2008.

The investigation also painted the Miami-Dade jail facilities as brutal places.

  • Miami-Dade Corrections is “engaging in a pattern of using excessive force against prisoners”, abusing prisoners and routinely retaliating against them, resulting in frequent injuries.
  • The federal investigation said if the guards were not abusing prisoners, they looked the other way when inmates did, finding the county failed to supervise prisoners, particularly violent prisoners. It also said there’s significant evidence the county doesn’t protect prisoners from sexual assault.

The walls that contained this alleged thuggery and violence did not escape criticism by the feds. The report slammed the county for inadequate fire and life safety systems, health problems, poor sanitation, overcrowding and the risk of infection, inadequate pest control and even lousy laundry service.

The report delivered to the county 11 pages of remediation measures, or items the county needs to address to end the civil rights violations in its correction system.

The report did provide some encouraging news, saying the county has taken steps to fix some violations since investigators toured the jails.”We appreciate the Jail’s proactive efforts,” the report said.

“Nonetheless, the deficiencies we identified are serious and systemic, and we anticipate that a court enforceable agreement will be necessary to remedy them.”

The Justice Department also made it clear to the county that unless it cooperates, it could face a federal lawsuit.

The county Friday released a summary of the actions it claims to have taken to meet the concerns of the investigators, but newly-elected Mayor Carlos Gimenez released a letter saying he was “deeply concerned about these findings.

Gimenez said he met with Carlos Migoya, newly named CEO of troubled Jackson Health systems, which provided many of the health services slammed by the federal investigators. He also said he’s met with key members of Miami-Dade Corrections, and promised the county will be responsive and transparent in working with the justice department.

The Justice Department has given the county 49 days to respond and formulate plans to deal with the problems found in the report.



    • sellous

      Nice to know that they uncovered these violations, but what next? no one will be held accountably, the biggest problem will not be fixed and that is people should be presumed innocent until found guilty.

      All you who are running up your loud mouth, just wait until you are taken to these jails on a trumped up charge/false accusation only then will you learn to use your senses, not everyone in jail or prison is guilty.

      My estrange wife came to my place of business attacked me, yet I was the one who got arrested, taken to jail by this wicked Miami Dade detective called Shannon Walton on nothing but lies, she needs to be investigated as she did it so as to protect one of her co-worker who was abusing my child, I spent 3 long months without bond as I decided not to take the plea offer.

      Friends this is a wicked world, those heartless correction offers, had bus freezing cold parked for hours not caring a ounce about those without jackets. They are nothing but wicked animals.

      These young girls and boys in uniforms disrespect men who could be their grand father four times and more. They need to be charged for abusing those in their care, not just a report, that is not good enough.

  • matt giacomino


    NOW WHAT ?

  • Goober

    It’s jail! It’s not supposed to be pleasant!

    • Allergic To Goobers

      One thing to remember, Goober, is that many people in jail are there pending trial, and have NOT been judged GUILTY. So, you have people innocent under the law and our constitution being mistreated. Anyone can be arrested and jailed. It could be you, and if you can’t afford bail, you wait until someone proves you guilty. If you are found innocent, well, too bad for the year you spent being denied medical care or playing hide the soap in the shower while guards look the other way, according to the feds. Jail, prison, or not, EVERY PERSON is entitled to constitutional protection, and this report calls into question the county’s understanding of that. The website included the full report. Did you read it? I did. It’s pretty amazing.

    • Robert

      Hey yoyo, you are confussing pleasant with inhumane or is it that you wanted to put in your 2 cents worth. Hope and pray that no one from your family has to go through such a trauma… you will be eating your words!

    • John

      What if you or someone who is innocent is sent there and they have to wait trial until proven guilty.. By law you can be held in jail till the prosecution decides if they’re gonna press charges up to 32 days without bail.

      It would suck if an innocent tax payer gets sent to one of these places and has to suffer because of our county’s inability to operate in an organized and humane fashion.

  • Robert

    Did you also know that the airconditioning system at the entire Women’s jail in Homestead has been broken for the past 6 or 7 months now… the entire summer without air, so what they do is tell the women to open the window BUT THE WINDOWS DON’T HAVE SCREENS allowing the mosquitos to get in the dorms, and let me tell you friend… that area of Miami has about the meanest bunch of mosquitos around. That only invites additional health issues at which the County/State is not very good at addressing. They also ration the toilet paper and if an inmate runs out they have to buy a roll for $1.00 each.
    I recently saw a woman sargeant at the visiting facility turn down an inmate’s request to go to the bathroom because the sargeant was busy eating a bag of potato chips, that’s what they do make one wait… 5 to 10 minutes?
    I think that if it were not for their cushy jobs… the staff (guards) would be at the bread line since more than half of them don’t know how to do anything else!

    • Angel

      Robert this article is talking about Miami Dade Corrections not State of Florida Department of Corrections. They are two different systems one is jail and the other is State Prison. In some parts of Florida there are prison camps with no air conditions system PERIOD. This is jail not a fancy hotel.

  • Dalon

    Of course jail is not supposed to be pleasant. What a self-righteous remark.
    Have you never made a serious mistake? If so, you’re just damn lucky you weren’t prosecuted for it, or that your mistake isn’t on the books —- yet.
    Nobody, unless they are violent murderous thugs, should be subjected to brutal, filthy, violent, unsanitary, subhuman treatment. Nonviolent offenses should require years of fulltime community service under supervision. Only violent offenses should require incarceration or death. This system puts kids and nonviolent offenders in with predatory rapists and killers. It stinks.

  • Angel

    I have read all the post and I’m aware of freedom of speech, but come on we need to ask ourself do we won’t jail to be like a vacation spot? I think some people will never be happy, if you are a victim of a crime I’m sure you will want the person to get what s/he deserves. Don’t get me wrong everyone should be treating innocent until proven guilty.

  • b.l. Smith

    Great, its about time someone finally exposed those animals masquerading as correctional guard. Nothing but a bunch or bullies, thugs and cowards working in the cesspit.
    I saw a correctional guard kick a inmate because the count didn’t come out right.
    Those are some brutal people working down there.. Totally without morals or scruples.

    In my opinion, they are no better then the people they claim to be protecting us from.

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