MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A new warden has been named at Dade Correctional Institution after the previous warden and two of his assistants were fired after the investigation into an inmate death who died in a scalding shower was taking too long.
Department of Corrections Secretary Mike Crews named the new warden Thursday along with a new Assistant Warden and Colonel.
Crews visited the Florida City prison last week following reports that Miami-Dade police were investigating the death of Darren Rainey, a mentally ill inmate who died after guards allegedly forced him to shower in scalding hot water as punishment.
“I have not been satisfied with the information flow from Dade C.I.,” Crews said in a prepared statement Thursday. “And we need leaders there who will act with urgency to protect the safety of the inmates and staff, and hold individuals accountable when needed. This change will send a message throughout the department that service is a privilege and leaders must meet the fullest extent of their duty to Florida.”
Crews said he terminated Warden Jerry Cummings and appointed Warden Les Odom, Assistant Warden Jose Lugo and Col. Victor Barber.
Cummings had been on administrative leave since Crews visited the facility last week.
A department news release said that while initial reports indicated Rainey died of natural causes, Crews “believes he should have had a more detailed briefing on the issue. …The leadership changes I’ve made at Dade C.I. will ensure the information flow is accurate and timely.”
Corrections officers at DCI have been accused of widespread abuses, including placing prisoners in scalding showers, taunting them needlessly, forcing them to fight each other for sport and withholding their meals.
The department has been under fire for weeks following media reports about the suspicious deaths of inmates.
Crews met last week with members of the Miami-Dade Police Department, who assured him the Rainey investigation was nearing an end.
“Today I am also asking Miami-Dade to complete their investigation immediately,” Crews said. “This investigation has taken too long, and it is time to get the facts so we can take any additional action that may be necessary.”
One of two officers involved in Rainey’s deadly scalding incident resigned a year ago and the other resigned last week.
The ACLU, along with church leaders and other humanitarian groups, have asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate Rainey’s death.