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Protesters Shed Light On Miami's Troubled Mental Health Record

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
Tami Jo Urban/Wikimedia Commons
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Miami activists have been calling for the state attorney to bring charges against two prison guards accused of torturing and killing Darren Rainey four years ago.

Mental health advocate Amy McClellan says after mental health hospitals closed in the 1950s, prisons got flooded with mentally ill inmates. She says Florida hasn’t filled the gap in care since then.

“Our state is 49th or 50th in the country in terms of per capita spending on mental health services,” McClellan said.

McClellan was at a protest in front of the state attorney’s office in Miami. It was held on the anniversary of the death of Darren Rainey, a schizophrenic inmate at Dade Correctional Institution.

Some protesters have a personal stake in the matter.

“Darren Rainey was murdered by guards at Dade CI where my son was,” said Jema Pena, who said her mentally ill son has been held in solitary confinement for 90 percent of his time in prison.

“(He’s) being tortured and abused, no medications, the state does not cover his medications.”

Similar claims have been corroborated by whistleblowers who worked at Dade Correctional.

Activists say the lack of resources and accountability will continue to fuel the pipeline to prison for mental health patients.