September 21, 2014 / 7:01 AM / 5 years ago

Florida prison system fires 32 guards after inmate deaths: Miami Herald

(Reuters) - The secretary of Florida’s prison system has fired nearly three dozen guards in the wake of the recent scrutiny given to inmate deaths across the state during recent years, the Miami Herald newspaper reported.

Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Michael Crews dismissed 32 guards on Friday, according to the newspaper. All of them had been accused of criminal misconduct or wrongdoing stemming from inmate deaths at four different prisons, the report said.

Reuters could not immediately verify the report as representatives for the department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Florida’s prison system came under increasing scrutiny after the circumstances of the 2012 death of mentally ill prisoner Darren Rainey came to light.

In June, the American Civil Liberties Union penned a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder calling for a federal investigation into Rainey’s death, saying that the state had attempted to “cover it up.”

The letter said that Rainey was blasted with scalding hot water in a locked closet-sized shower as a punishment at the state’s Dade Correctional Institution in Miami.

After two hours, Rainey was found dead with his skin separated from his body, the letter stated. The water temperature was later measured at 180 degrees (82 Celsius), according to court records.

“These revelations that are coming out are not about incompetence. They’re about guards killing people and public officials working feverishly to cover it up,” Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida said.

Earlier this month, Crews said in a memo that the department had not been consistently holding staff who committed crimes accountable.

“The lack of consistent consequences for the same crime has the potential of undermining the culture of professionalism that is necessary for running institutions with integrity,” he wrote.

Reporting by Curtis Skinner; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

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