Darren Rainey was sentenced to 2 years on a cocaine charge in 2012 at Dade Correctional institution. He was 4 months into his sentence when guards took him out of his cell and forced him into a shower and locked the door that would later lead to his death.
The guards turned the water on as high as possible, 160 degrees, and walked away. They did not come back to check on him until 2 hours later when he was found dead laying in a puddle of water.
Four years after his death, the state’s investigation concluded that there was no wrongdoing by the officers involved or the institution
But given the facts of the case, this decision is widely disputed. Let’s take a look at why…
An investigation, by the Miami Herald, concluded that torture is not exactly an uncommon practice at this institution. In fact, the shower that Rainey was trapped in, was “reported that Dade corrections officers had rigged the shower to punish inmates who misbehaved.” In addition to this, “Dade guards would douse inmates with chemicals, starve them and force them to fight.”
Rainey, who has schizophrenia, was placed in the shower because he defecated in his cell and smeared it all over himself. Reportedly, the officers made him get in the shower until he cleaned himself.
While Rainey was in the shower, inmates nearby stated that they could hear him screaming “I’m sorry. I won’t do it any more” and “I can’t take it no more.” Further evidence that Rainey was, in fact, tortured.
Witness reported that Rainey’s skin was peeling and resembled a “boiled lobster.” This is likely due to the fact that Rainey’s shower was 160 degrees, 40 degrees above the state law. In the Miami Herald‘s investigation, they spoke with witnesses and in a reported stated “Rainey screamed in terror and begged to be let out for more than an hour until he collapsed and died, witnesses told the Herald. Some of the officers taunted and laughed at him, some inmates who were in the unit at the time of his death said.”
Despite all of this evidence, the medical examiner attributed the cause of Rainey’s death to “a combination of his schizophrenia, heart disease and in the small shower space. She said schizophrenic people can have nervous system reactions that trigger a heart attack if they have an underlying condition”
To counter this, the Herald interviewed Dr. Micahael Baden, a forensic pathologist on New York’s State Prison Medical review board, who stated
” ‘Well, you don’t die from schizophrenia,’said Baden And skin just doesn’t slough off by itself.'”
Sloughing is caused by “hot water trauma that only happens when the skin is exposed to elevated water temperatures.
Nevertheless, the prosecution and the federal courts stand by the actions of the officers. The prosecution stated in a report that,
“The evidence fails to show that any correctional officer acted in reckless disregard of Rainey’s life.”
The prosecution believes that there is no evidence because the witnesses are inmates in the prison who are not “credible sources” and are not supported by enough evidence.
Furthermore, the prosecution believes that,
“Placing an inmate who has defecated upon himself in a shower to decontaminate himself is not conduct that is criminally reckless,” they wrote. “There was no evidence of any intent to harm Rainey.”
The results of this case are discouraging, but should not come as a surprise. Once again our criminal justice system failed to deliver “justice”. And once again the courts proved that prisons are not safe places for the mentally ill.