DOC Sec. Crews Suspends Warden Over Inmate Death Two Years Ago

Jul 10, 2014

Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Mike Crews at a press conference at Dade Correctional Institution Thursday.
Credit Miami Herald's youtube

Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Mike Crews has suspended the warden of a South Florida prison where an inmate died in a scalding shower a couple years ago. It’s the latest in a series of inmate abuse-related death allegations surrounding the department lately.

In 2012, Dade Correctional officers allegedly punished Darren Rainey, a mentally ill prisoner, with a shower so hot that it separated his skin from his body, resulting in his death. That’s why during a visit to the facility Thursday, DOC head Crews said he’s fully prepared to move forward on any disciplinary actions.

“Earlier today, as part of our overall leadership evaluation over at Dade Correctional institution, I actually placed Warden Jerry Cummings on [paid] administrative leave,” said Crews, speaking to a group of reporters.

While he says he won’t take action until an investigation into the abuse claims is complete, he’s fully prepared to fire those responsible.

“This type of conduct, this type of behavior, and this type of actions we’re not going to tolerate in this department. We are going to find those bad seeds and we’re going to eliminate them from being able to work in our department,” he added.

Crews says he also intends to travel to other correctional facilities across the state to maintain a “secure environment for officers and inmates and bring any truth to all whistleblower claims to light.”

He says during his travels, he's expected to spread a message of zero-tolerance of corruption and abuse within the state’s correctional facilities.

This comes as four DOC investigators recently sued the department, claiming they’ve been punished for calling attention to an inaccurate report of the death of an inmate at another correctional facility and were denied whistleblower protection.

Meanwhile, groups, like the Florida Justice Institute and the American Civil Liberties Union, have called for a federal investigation into Rainey's death, after several news reports found that it was not properly investigated.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter: @SaschaCordner.