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Inmate: I Cleaned Up Skin

It took five letters, including one from a law firm, for Miami Herald reporter Julie K. Brown to gain an interview with an inmate who has crucial inside information on the death of a mentally ill inmate at Dade Correctional Institution two years ago.

Convicted killer Mark Joiner, now at a state prison in Lake City, told Brown that DCI guards routinely tortured and even killed inmates, then bragged about it. They also bragged that nothing would happen to them, he said.

According to the Miami Herald story, Joiner said guards ordered him to clean up the shower stall where another inmate had died from heat exposure. He said he found human skin on the floor, which the guards ordered him to throw away.

He said the skin belonged to Darren Rainey, a mentally-ill prisoner who was locked in the stall for two hours, unable to escape scalding water controlled from outside, according to Brown’s story in the Herald.  

The death occurred two years ago and was reported to Miami-Dade Police Department, but until the Herald started reporting on it, local and state authorities had taken no action. The autopsy report was never released, the Herald reported.

Joiner says he wrote to Department of Corrections Inspector General Jeffery Beasley about what he saw, but Beasley did not reopen the case until last week, after the Herald’s stories began.

On Wednesday, DOC said it was revising its “policies and processes.”

Now a collection of human-rights groups, including Amnesty International, the Florida Council of Churches and the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, is asking U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to intervene.

The Herald reported that health-care employees of the jail contractor, Corizon, knew about the violence,  but most were too afraid of losing their jobs to intervene. The Herald reported that a mental-health counselor who tried to blow the whistle after he saw guards beating and kicking an inmate was fired.

Rainey, 50, had been serving a two-year sentence on drug possession. Guards were punishing him for leaving feces in his cell, the Herald reported.

Originally founded in December 2006 as an independent grassroots publication dedicated to coverage of health issues in Florida, Health News Florida was acquired by WUSF Public Media in September 2012.