MIAMI (CBS4) – Calls for action and change are echoing across the South Florida community as the Miami-Dade Jail and the Department of Corrections comes under scrutiny and the spotlight.
“I am speaking on behalf of Jaoquin Cairo and Juan Mator-Flories. Jaoquin and Juan could not be here tonight because they are dead. Both died recently while in the custody of Miami-Dade County,” said Terry Murphy, a public affairs consultant who advocates for the mentally ill.
Murphy recently addressed a town hall meeting where attention turned to two inmates of the 9th floor of the jail. Troubling questions over their deaths were first exposed by the CBS 4 News investigative team.
The community is now speaking out for urgent change and asking questions about the 20 million dollar- plus bond that was approved six years ago to be directed toward creating a mental health diversion facility.
“The voters asked you to do it. They gave you the authority to spend the money. So do it and take care of these people,” said Murphy.
Before that budget meeting, Miami Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez sat down with Chief Investigator Michele Gillen to discuss the jail, telling her; “We understand it’s been neglected for a long time, we are talking the steps now to rectify it.”
Steps that cannot happen fast enough, according to Miami-Dade Commissioner Sally Heyman, who on Wednesday presided over a public safety and corrections hearing that happens to follow the Monday death of another 9th floor inmate.
Inmate Joseph Wilner is the 3rd death on the Forgotten Floor that is now currently under investigation.
“I am frustrated and saddened by the turn of events of late. I can’t tell you how hurt I am that we have people dying in our system and I question if they should be there in the first place,” Heyman told the commission chambers.
Heyman has requested a management watch be placed on Miami-Dade Corrections, meaning that the mayor’s office would play a larger role in running it. That request under review.
Gillen asked the Director of Corrections, Tim Ryan, if he saw the request for a management watch as a lack of confidence in those running the system.
“I think what the commissioner indicated was that we are already looking for a better way to do business and anything that will help us do that, we look forward to achieving it,” Ryan said.
Meanwhile, at Wednesday’s hearing, commissioner Audrey Edmonson asked that the Miami-Dade Inspector General open an investigation into what’s happening in the jail and while some of talk turned to the need to urgently correct conditions, which CBS4 recently exposed.
Heyman reminded the audience, “We all saw the rat the size of a liter bottle.”