Florida prison inmates

Florida Department of Corrections

The U.S. Justice Department is investigating the death in a scalding shower of a Florida prisoner and may conduct a broader civil rights probe into allegations of abuse of mentally ill inmates.

Existence of the criminal investigation into the 2012 death of Darren Rainey, 50, was confirmed in a recent Justice Department letter to the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, which last year requested the probe.

Florida Inspectors General Office

A widening scandal focusing on the treatment of Florida prison inmates includes new allegations that Gov. Rick Scott's own top watchdog was warned about the possible cover-up of two suspicious prison deaths but did not do anything.

The Miami Herald reported Friday that the governor's chief inspector general received an anonymous letter in Oct. 2012 that included details about prisoners who had died while in state custody.