MIAMI (CBSMiami) – If you ask mental health counselor George Mallinckrodt about prison inmates suffering from mental illness he will quickly share this message.
“They shouldn’t be taunted, tormented, beaten and killed.”
This week Mallinckrodt sat down with CBS4 Chief Investigator Michele Gillen to discuss the treatment of mentally ill inmates housed at the Dade Correctional Institute in Homestead. He shared what he says he observed and what he says he has reported to the U.S. Department of Justice.
First on his list of behavior that he said sickened him were guards agitating inmates with compromised mental capacity. For what reason, Gillen asked.
“For fun, great sport,” recalled Mallinckrodt as he saw it.
A certified psychotherapist, Mallinckrodt worked in the Transitional Care Unit for two years. He said he reported to prison and state authorities a story told to him by one inmate back in 2010 of being beaten by guards. The inmate even showed him evidence.
“He actually pulled up his shirt and he was bruised all over the place, they had kicked him in his legs, his arms,” said Mallinckrodt. “I couldn’t sit on the sidelines. I filed a report in Tallahassee with the Inspector General. I also filed a report in the prison itself.”
Gillen asked if anyone from the Inspector General’s Office or from law enforcement ever contacted him in response.
“Nothing, zero”, said Mallinckrodt.
After he was terminated, he said he learned of a death.
“A year later an inmate was killed,” Mallinckrodt told Gillen.
That inmate was 50-year old Darren Rainy. He was found dead after being taken to a reportedly scalding hot shower and locked in it. Records confirm only guards had access to the water controls. Reports indicate he had “visible trauma” to his entire body.
CBS4 News obtained the medical examiner’s report on Darren Rainy two years after his death. It lists no cause of death has been determined. The Miami-Dade Medical Examiner’s Office told the investigative team that the cause of death is still under investigation.
“I mean there are a lot of failures here Michele, it’s inexcusable, this is a horrific death by any account, just absolutely horrific and it’s the tip of the iceberg,” says Randy Berg, the Director of the Florida Justice Institute, a legal prison rights advocacy organization.
Berg said without a conclusion from Medical Examiner, investigations into the incident seemed to be stalled.
“It all starts with the Medical Examiner’s report not being done,” said Berg who added that it was “totally unacceptable.”
“If this were a child who was scalded with hot water, there would have been a human outcry and an immediate autopsy report that would have been done but since this is a mentally ill prisoner, in a state institution, out of sight, out of mind, no one knew about it, no one cared,” said Berg.
When Miami-Dade Commissioner Sally Heyman heard about Rainy’s death she said it left her “nauseous, it actually made me sick and also sad, very sad. It is unacceptable.”
A death and lack of answers that should trigger state and local investigations, she added.
“That’s why I hope our State Attorney Kathy Fernandez Rundle will convene a grand jury to investigate. How our system, the correction system, treats the mentally ill,” said Heyman.
A landscape ever the more chilling, according to Judge Steve Leifman who chairs the Florida Supreme Court task force on mental health.
“It sounds like a horror movie that would never happen in the United States. But unfortunately when it comes to people with mental illnesses, they are almost treated sub human and it has to stop,” said Leifman.
Beginning with unearthing the facts of what happened at the Dade Correctional Institution.
Mallinckrodt said after reporting multiple incidents and finding conditions increasingly tough to work in, he was fired. He said he was told it was because he took some long lunches. He said he would never go back to work there but will not forget the inmates and continues to search for answers.
The Department of Corrections said it cannot comment on open investigations but works to ensure the safety of all inmates.