Florida Department of Corrections Agrees to Settle with the Disability Rights of Florida in Inmate Mistreatment Lawsuit
Disability Rights of Florida had a major win recently when the Florida Department of Corrections settled the lawsuit filed by the disability rights group opposing treatment of mentally ill inmates incarcerated in the Florida prison system. The Disability Rights of Florida filed actions against the Florida Department of Corrections after a series of incidences were published regarding malicious and, at times, lethal treatment of its mentally disabled inmates, who were reported to be confined in a cell block surrounded by feces, insects, and rotten food.
Illegal Acts of the Guards at Dade Correctional
Many inmates reported that guards at Dade Correctional, as a form of humiliation and punishment, would force inmates into scalding showers, forced many to perform sexual acts, put laxatives and urine into inmates’ meals, threaten or physically beat the inmates, or force inmates to fight each other as a form of entertainment for the guards.
The information regarding these acts against the inmates came to light with the death of two inmates. The first inmate, Darren Rainey, who was incarcerated for a drug offense, collapsed and died while being forced into a hot shower that was almost 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Another inmate, Richard Mair, committed suicide by hanging himself in his cell and left a note describing the terrible things that the guards did to him and other inmates while incarcerated in the Dade Correctional facility.
The Settlement Agreement: the Stipulations
As stipulated within the settlement finalized by Disability Rights of Florida with the Florida Department of Corrections, the Correctional facility at Dade agreed to promote and enforce rules and regulations that would better protect the mentally ill inmates housed within the Unit.
The following are some of the stipulations agreed to by the Department of Corrections:
- Guards and staff members working within the mentally ill unit will be required to go through significant and specialized training to help them better work with inmates suffering from mental illness.
- Increased supervision and security must be in place to ensure that there is a video monitoring system that can better protect the inmates as well as the guards from misconduct.
- Staff must be increased to include a team of experts and psychiatrists who are trained in helping inmates with severe mental illness through therapeutic and non-therapeutic methods.
Significant Victory for Those Inmates with Mental Illness
These are some of the measures put into place as a result of the settlement agreement. This settlement represents a significant win for men and women suffering from mental illness in the prison system in Florida. This victory falls in line with a series of wins for mentally ill inmates, the most relevant being the protection of the mentally ill from the death penalty, and a movement to better support and treat those mentally ill who are incarcerated.
Slowly but surely society has been moving in the direction of protecting the mentally ill. Though it has been a slow process, the last five years has shown a significant trend toward sending mentally ill defendants to psychiatric programs and treatment over confining them in prison, set apart from the rest of the inmate population where they progressively worsen.
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