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"I can’t take it no more, I’m sorry"
May 29, 2014 8:09 AM   Subscribe

Two years after a mentally ill Florida prisoner, Darren Rainey, was found dead, locked in a scalding-hot shower, the autopsy remains incomplete and no charges have been filed. He had been scheduled to be released the following month from his sentence for cocaine possession. The unit is under increased scrutiny because of the recent death of another prisoner, Damion Foster, during a cell extraction.
posted by anotherpanacea (49 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
. .

This is disgusting and horrific.
posted by pony707 at 8:13 AM on May 29 [3 favorites]


The DOC “is prepared to take immediate action to ensure accountability, based on the outcome of the investigation and the medical examiner’s report,’’ agency spokeswoman Jessica Cary said.

Do you suppose that this is "fix the problem" accountability or "cover our ass" accountability?
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:21 AM on May 29 [2 favorites]


if possible, can someone post a link to that LATimes cell extraction article that is the print preview version? my work still uses some version of IE that is not compatible with that and i can't use a different browser.

thanks!
posted by sio42 at 8:24 AM on May 29


Dreadful and terrifying. How is it possible that nobody has been found culpable. Urgh.
posted by zeoslap at 8:24 AM on May 29


Print version sio42. (Think I fixed it to the LAT article--but it still opens up a print window instead of being a NORMAL extended, 1 page link.)
posted by whatgorilla at 8:32 AM on May 29


That was hard to read.
posted by GrapeApiary at 8:33 AM on May 29


I'm sorry, but what the fuck is wrong with Florida?
posted by agregoli at 8:37 AM on May 29 [7 favorites]


Having grown up and spent a good portion of my adult life in Florida, I can vouch for how corrupted and backwards the correctional system is there. It is totally an old boys club (in the hillbilly sense). The only worse state I've experienced is perhaps Alabama, where a officer issued me with a Attempt to evade (even though I pulled over). In his defence, he was rightly suspicious to my reply when he asked me what business I had in the town of Laverne,
And I sarcastically said I was looking for the residence of my friend, Gregory Peck.

Anyway, my brother is a correctional officer in Florida now. It saddened me and yet confirmed my worst fears when he confided to me one night that "they are absolutely not human beings. They lost that right when they were convicted." He was peer-pressured into this belief.

He also confided to me that in case of an actual Zombie event, they were authorised to shoot all the prisoners before abandoning the prison, and that was POLICY. Like, they had actually watched walking dead and then gone to work and had a meeting about what if that happened and made a policy about a Zombie event...on a state-wide level!
posted by cicadaverse at 8:40 AM on May 29 [45 favorites]


Dreadful and terrifying. How is it possible that nobody has been found culpable. Urgh.

Because, according to large swaths of society, once you go through those walls as an inmate you're subhuman and deserve everything you get. If you can't do the time, don't do the crime. If you disagree "WHAT ABOUT THE VICTIMS?" and "SOFT ON CRIME!". God help you if you're a politician who wants to fix things because that will be on every glossy mailer from one end of your constituency to the other.
posted by Talez at 8:41 AM on May 29 [10 favorites]


In his defence, he was rightly suspicious to my reply when he asked me what business I had in the town of Laverne,
Nickname(s): "Friendliest City in the South"
[citation needed] at that nickname.
posted by Talez at 8:43 AM on May 29 [4 favorites]


my mother was very firmly in the "you must have done something if you landed in prison" until she met someone who was wrongly convicted and spent 10 years in prison before being released based on DNA evidence. and she's not an idiot. she just really believed in our justice system and that "everyone in prison says they didn't do it."

thanks for the print version, also.

cicadaverse- i want to favorite your comment but i can't because favorite implies like and i'm just so WTF about your anecodate that i can't really even process it. i don't know what i would say if a relative or even a friend told me that. i'd just sit there with my open, perhaps sputtering as my brain short circuited.
posted by sio42 at 8:55 AM on May 29 [1 favorite]


Sometimes I cheer for global warming.
posted by dirigibleman at 8:58 AM on May 29 [8 favorites]


When I read things like this, it makes me wish I were capable of surviving law school. I can't think of many better ways to spend my time than fighting a system that actively and passively creates these sorts of situations. I want to give this story all of my periods.
posted by Poppa Bear at 9:00 AM on May 29


Poppa Bear I've toyed with this but even if you are on the inside, the deck really is stacked against the indigent when it comes to the justice system.

This should scare the shit out of anyone when we think of the judicial system having a sense of "fairness". It's fair in the classic Antanole France way of "the law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread".
posted by Talez at 9:14 AM on May 29 [11 favorites]


Sometimes I cheer for global warming.

Pfft. That's too slow. I'm rooting for something more abrupt.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:17 AM on May 29


He also confided to me that in case of an actual Zombie event, they were authorised to shoot all the prisoners before abandoning the prison, and that was POLICY. Like, they had actually watched walking dead and then gone to work and had a meeting about what if that happened and made a policy about a Zombie event...on a state-wide level!

I am choosing to believe he was fucking with you because anything else would make me scream without stopping for days.
posted by corb at 9:25 AM on May 29 [13 favorites]


poppa bear, law school will sap every iota of your idealism and replace it with disillusionment and cynicism. ask me how i know!
posted by bruce at 9:43 AM on May 29 [9 favorites]


I'm sorry, but what the fuck is wrong with Florida?

The same thing that's wrong with Florida's prisons are the same things wrong with prisons all over the US: they're institutions designed to punish, demean, belittle, and otherwise break prisoners so the sadistic goons who are employed by the prison industrial complex - both publicly and privately funded - can all the easier get their rocks off.
posted by item at 9:56 AM on May 29 [7 favorites]


I am choosing to believe he was fucking with you because anything else would make me scream without stopping for days.

Seems like a reasonable use for a Freedom of Information Act request.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 9:57 AM on May 29 [10 favorites]


The California extraction video is terrifying. Can you imagine just the experience of losing touch with reality? What is it like when your psychosis is interspersed with armored, masked men making demands of you? What's it like when you have difficulty understanding or complying with their demands? What's it like trying to comply after being pepper sprayed? What's it like to lose vision, have difficulty breathing, and experience searing pain, on top of whatever else has driven you to madness?

Now what's it like when the officers aren't being videotaped and you die during the extraction? Is that better or worse than being tortured to death in a shower?
posted by Hume at 10:21 AM on May 29 [2 favorites]


He also confided to me that in case of an actual Zombie event, they were authorised to shoot all the prisoners before abandoning the prison, and that was POLICY. Like, they had actually watched walking dead and then gone to work and had a meeting about what if that happened and made a policy about a Zombie event...on a state-wide level!

someone needs to foia that shit.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:24 AM on May 29 [7 favorites]


It's likely that no contingency plan actually exists. But if it does, I highly doubt anyone has passed "Shoot the prisoners before abandoning the prison" into a law anywhere in the country.
posted by zarq at 10:33 AM on May 29


He also confided to me that in case of an actual Zombie event, they were authorised to shoot all the prisoners before abandoning the prison, and that was POLICY. Like, they had actually watched walking dead and then gone to work and had a meeting about what if that happened and made a policy about a Zombie event...on a state-wide level!

FOIA, find a niche news team, then release it as part of a campaign to remove the Old Guard from their 'stewardship' over the prison system.
posted by Slackermagee at 10:41 AM on May 29


Poppa Bear, my husband's a criminal defense attorney and it is slowly wearing him down. The system is so big, and so intractable, and shifting it is incredibly difficult. I think he does good work, and he didn't have a lot of idealism to lose to begin with (he's a very pragmatic kind of person), and I'm glad he's in there every day holding the state accountable for following their own rules, but damn, some of the stories he tells me are just heartbreaking.
posted by joannemerriam at 11:03 AM on May 29 [2 favorites]


It's likely that no contingency plan actually exists. But if it does, I highly doubt anyone has passed "Shoot the prisoners before abandoning the prison" into a law anywhere in the country.

I'm curious as to why you would "highly doubt" this? Especially insofar as what that article says is:

No country publicly acknowledges a "shoot on sight" plan in the case of an extreme disaster — but such a plan could possibly be implemented in the case of martial law.

Not publicly acknowledging a plan is not the same as denying such a plan exists. And if "a plan could possibly be implemented" - that means the plan already exists.

relevant- New Orleans: Prisoners Abandoned to Floodwaters
posted by jammy at 11:04 AM on May 29 [2 favorites]


But if it does, I highly doubt anyone has passed "Shoot the prisoners before abandoning the prison" into a law anywhere in the country.

It wouldn't need to be an actual law, would it? Prisons are private, for-profit corporations. It would be "corporate policy" like casual fridays.
posted by elizardbits at 11:21 AM on May 29 [10 favorites]


They're not always for-profit, or private companies, but if you don't believe that a policy like that could exist, or honestly, that prison officials wouldn't do something as stupid and time-wasting as have a meeting about the zombie apocalypse, you don't know much about incarceration in America.
posted by agregoli at 11:24 AM on May 29 [4 favorites]


Texas woman claims that being left to give birth alone in solitary confinement killed her baby.
posted by emjaybee at 11:29 AM on May 29 [3 favorites]


...in case of an actual Zombie event, they were authorised to shoot all the prisoners before abandoning the prison, and that was POLICY.

I'm getting worried about these reports of official adult agencies thinking about this hypothetical "zombie event."

The fact is, a zombie outbreak is as likely as a leprechaun outbreak. But in the case of a true national emergency (loss of power, loss of political authority, loss of telecommunications), this kind of hilariously hypothetical policy is now sitting right there on the shelf, ready to be used.

What it amounts to is a "hypothetical" justification for mass murder and turning firearms on massed civilians.
posted by General Tonic at 11:43 AM on May 29 [5 favorites]


Not to go all Godwin on you, America, but it would seem like the Nazis could have learned a thing or two from you about how to torture prisoners.
posted by monospace at 11:48 AM on May 29 [1 favorite]


jammy: " No country publicly acknowledges a "shoot on sight" plan in the case of an extreme disaster — but such a plan could possibly be implemented in the case of martial law.

Not publicly acknowledging a plan is not the same as denying such a plan exists. And if "a plan could possibly be implemented" - that means the plan already exists.
"

No, "a plan could possibly be implemented in case of martial law" is total speculation, and not in any way evidence or proof that a plan exists. And the New Orleans situation is specifically one where prisoners were not executed but instead left in their cells to drown in water and sewage.
posted by zarq at 11:52 AM on May 29 [1 favorite]


elizardbits: " It wouldn't need to be an actual law, would it? Prisons are private, for-profit corporations. It would be "corporate policy" like casual fridays."

Some prisons are private, for-profit corporations. Not all. The rest are run by states or by the Federal government. All categories of prison are subject to strict laws about the treatment and mistreatment of inmates. There are also federal laws which apply to executions. Which is why prisoner deaths are investigated as criminal acts. You can't just execute a prisoner for the hell of it. And to state the obvious, prison mass execution policies would be illegal.
posted by zarq at 11:59 AM on May 29


No, "a plan could possibly be implemented in case of martial law" is total speculation, and not in any way evidence or proof that a plan exists.

You disagree with the article you linked to? That's confusing.

And the New Orleans situation is specifically one where prisoners were not executed but instead left in their cells to drown in water and sewage.

How is that different than execution? Maybe there's a legal definition that will discern this but if I had the choice of being shot over being drowned in sewage, I would probably choose the former. In either case, though, death is the result.
posted by jammy at 12:10 PM on May 29


jammy: " You disagree with the article you linked to? That's confusing."

No. The phrase you quoted does not mean what you seem to think it does.

"How is that different than execution? Maybe there's a legal definition that will discern this but if I had the choice of being shot over being drowned in sewage, I would probably choose the former. In either case, though, death is the result."

Abandonment ≠ execution.
posted by zarq at 12:17 PM on May 29


Anyway see the news article from my town? Well, now the county has a budget deficit of $16 million, so karma, maybe, but more likely they'll just extract it from the taxpayers.
posted by jenh526 at 12:26 PM on May 29


Poppa Bear, trying to fix our horrid criminal conviction system by becoming a public defender is like trying to fix a bent rim with counterweights. Yes, you may end up with something that can kinda-sorta work on the road, but you haven't really fixed the problem. The problems are political, and all being a PD does in my experience is wear you the hell out. You're not there to actually fight for your clients. You're there so the system as a whole can claim that your presence makes the process "fair."
posted by 1adam12 at 12:27 PM on May 29 [1 favorite]


No. The phrase you quoted does not mean what you seem to think it does.

Please excuse my misunderstanding. Could you tell me what it means then? You said earlier it was "total speculation". Is it just that? Why link to an article that engages in such, especially one that is serving to justify your claim?

Abandonment ≠ execution.

Interesting formula - could you elaborate? If I bury someone up to their neck just below the tideline and abandon them, is this abandonment or execution? During Katrina those men were in cages. There was no way for them to leave by their own choice or volition. This is not the same as abandoning someone because there is no hope of rescue. This is abandoning people to their certain deaths despite the fact that they could be saved.
posted by jammy at 12:30 PM on May 29 [3 favorites]


Its called collateral damage now.
posted by infini at 12:50 PM on May 29


jammy: "You said earlier it was "total speculation". Is it just that? Why link to an article that engages in such, especially one that is serving to justify your claim?"

Yes, speculation. No proof provided. Here's what the io9 article said:
Internet rumors and fiction suggest that guards are given "shoot on sight" orders for prisoners, in the case of an extreme disaster, both to ease the plight of the guards who are soon to abandon the prison, and to prevent any inmates from harming people in local communities. No country publicly acknowledges a "shoot on sight" plan in the case of an extreme disaster — but such a plan could possibly be implemented in the case of martial law.
Internet rumors and fiction are by definition, speculation. They're clearly neither proof nor evidence that a contingency plan, policy or state law exists which says "in case of natural disaster, execute prisoners." The article goes on to say that any contingency plans that do exist are about evacuations and using non-violent (or convicted of lesser crime) prisoners as guards and assistants, not prisoner executions.
Prison disaster management plans are now in place in most cases, with of lower threat, nonviolent inmates to assist guard. In the state of California, inmates with a non-violent background and a lack of sexual offenses are often trained to assist in battling fires, both inside of the prison and in communities should a wildfire occur. New Zealand officials are fighting for the right to include inmates as part of a disaster safety initiative as well.
The only example the article provides of unarmed prisoners being executed also explains that Haitian guards were punished for doing so. Which is a pretty strong indication that they weren't following a set policy.

If I bury someone up to their neck just below the tideline and abandon them, is this abandonment or execution? During Katrina those men were in cages. There was no way for them to leave by their own choice or volition. This is not the same as abandoning someone because there is no hope of rescue. This is abandoning people to their certain deaths despite the fact that they could be saved.

Some of the prisoners were able to escape. When they did so, according to the eyewitness interviewed here, deputies brought them to a bridge and then abandoned them without food or water for three days. So no, not certain death. And yes, abandonment.

Was it wrong and horrific? Yes. Absolutely. But at the same time, it would appear that no policy existed which said, "execute the prisoners."
posted by zarq at 1:08 PM on May 29 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry, but what the fuck is wrong with Florida?

FL has a unique history that goes way back. During the Jim Crow years it had some of the worst abuses. The reason (historically) is simple: FL is owned and run by the Orange plantations which require lots of cheap labor. So "Florida crackers" found ways to keep the black man in his place, that is, keep him in the bottom rung of the economic ladder and prevent cheap labor from moving away. They did this by coercion - get uppity and the Sheriff (who ran the counties like a fiefdom) would trump up charges, throw you in jail and the courts would go along (all in cahoots). Or the KKK would show up and make it quick. Typically it was for sullying the reputation of a white woman. The bar for capital punishment was low. So this story hasn't really ended. Things are not so bad as it was in the 1950s-1970s under the iron grip of sheriff Willis Virgil McCall (see the incredible book Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America which won a Pulitzer) but many of the patterns are still there in the institutions and communities. Florida is the south's south. All this in the counties right around Disney World.
posted by stbalbach at 1:09 PM on May 29 [7 favorites]


So, you linked to an article that both refuted and promoted internet rumors of secret orders to execute prisoners? This is still confusing...

Some of the prisoners were able to escape. When they did so, according to the eyewitness interviewed here, deputies brought them to a bridge and then abandoned them without food or water for three days. So no, not certain death. And yes, abandonment.

I am sincerely amazed that you are quibbling about this. When they were abandoned it was, indeed, certain death. The waters were rising, they were locked in their cells in low country, and they were left to die. No one knew when the storm would cease.

The fact that they survived is a testament to those mens fortitude, creativity, and spirit. The fact that some deputies brought them somewhere later and left them to die (again) means worse than nothing.

Also: 500 still unaccounted!!

-

But I'd like to get back to my earlier question: why do you "highly doubt anyone has passed 'Shoot the prisoners before abandoning the prison' into a law anywhere in the country"?

Instead of asking it of you this time, I'll ask it of myself: "Is there a reason for me to doubt anyone has passed "Shoot the prisoners before abandoning the prison" into a law anywhere in the country"?

And I would answer "No".

Why? I have little reason to doubt such a thing could take place given:

1. The viciously racist history of this country and the legacy it left in populating jail cells in this country with a proportional majority of people of color.

2. The vicious history of this country as regards its prisoners and their treatment, especially within the last few decades.

3. The long and sordid history of U.S. governmental agencies (Fed, State, Local), especially those of law enforcement, of lying through their teeth when they need to close ranks.

If you need me to provide links to the above three assertions, I can. But I'm pretty certain you are familiar with all of them.

Maybe we're arguing across each other? There is no public record of any such ideology or policy ("no public acknowledgment"). But there are things that are "policy" that are not made public and are never to be known by the public. Not every law gets "passed" in public.
posted by jammy at 2:04 PM on May 29 [3 favorites]


The answer to "what the hell is wrong with Florida" is, mostly, actually a question of what is wrong with every other state. I'm not denying any specific history, but the same stuff that goes on in Florida (probably) goes on everywhere. The difference is that Florida has radically expansive/liberal sunshine laws. Pretty much excepting "active criminal investigations (and even that's not absolute) every thing (evidence, correspondence) must be released to the public. That's why we saw so many photos and video in the Zimmerman case and why we see so much "wacky Florida" news of the weird-the surveillance tapes, evidence, mugshots, tapes of prisoner conversations with visitors-once it's given to the defense urging discovery, the press can get it, too. And news of the weird LOVES video. I'm on my phone but here's a link to the Wikipedia page re FL sunshine in government laws.
posted by atomicstone at 2:43 PM on May 29 [2 favorites]


Monospace, the Nazis actually did learn quite a lot from the US in terms of eugenics and segregation; Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow is just one place to find citations -- sorry I am too lazy to get more technical...

IOW, what is wrong with us all?
posted by allthinky at 3:56 PM on May 29 [1 favorite]


Waitaminute, waitaminute....is everyone here for this drug guy?
posted by telstar at 4:18 PM on May 29


This is disgusting.
posted by homunculus at 9:04 PM on May 29 [1 favorite]


Waitaminute, waitaminute....is everyone here for this drug guy?

Don't think of it so much as "for this drug guy" as much as "anti correctional facility guards extra-judicially torturing to death whoever they please".
posted by Talez at 9:34 PM on May 29 [3 favorites]


Sorry for my delay in getting back to this thread. I wanted to talk to my Brother and confirm the Zombie policy before I responded to people's interest in it. I confirmed that it doesn't have to be an actual Zombie event (although the walking dead was an example given) but also any event which would likely conclude with a permanent abandonment of the prison. A nuclear strike against the U.S. for instance, is another scenario they've discussed.

Anyway, it would have to involve the situation where the prison is forced to either let the prisoners go, leave them locked up but unattended, or just shoot them. He said it is policy in this situation to shoot them.

I asked if this was an official policy and what implications would it have with state and/or federal laws. He said it's internal policy that was introduced to him during training and though he has heard it mentioned a few times afterwards, he's never seen it in print.

He said re: the law consequences, it would only happen in a situation where there is a total absence of law. Let's assume the Governor has already declared martial law, and things go from bad to worse and the guards stop receiving any instruction and for their own safety, are forced to abandon their post. Note: this wouldn't happen for something like a hurricane. If they expected to return to the prison, they would simply give the prisoners extra food and water.

However if they would not be returning to the prison, they would need to make a hard decision. Letting the prisoners go would cause more issues than it would solve as there would likely be chaos and/or a riot which would result in guards being harmed or killed. The prison would also be responsible for any harm that innocent citizen came to that resulted from releasing the prisoners into society. Leaving them to starve to death unattended would not be humane. So shooting them is the best course of action.

After thinking about this, I've decided there likely wouldn't ever be a situation where there was a total absence of law or lack of authority. However, I do concede it is a possibility and I have to wonder if in a state prison manual somewhere, this is discussed.

I guess if there was a nuclear strike, and the Chinese and russians started to invade the state of Florida, and the governor disappeared, as well as the prisoner warden, then we might have to worry about it. I think most guards would just leave.

Lets assume though that some of the chaos that sparked the Zombie apocalypse or world war III somehow enters the prison, causing strife where prisoners start to get loose and guards start getting hurt, in other words, a prison riot. In this case, it is definitely okay to shoot all the prisoners who may be revolting. So my thought is, maybe that's where this policy started off and the prison staff's imagination got the best of them and now during training, they give a kind of worse case scenario to shock the new guards.

The effect is still chilling as it means that guards are indoctrinated into thinking, these are not people, we can shot them if need be and no one would complain.
posted by cicadaverse at 3:58 PM on May 30 [2 favorites]


Anyway, it would have to involve the situation where the prison is forced to either let the prisoners go, leave them locked up but unattended, or just shoot them. He said it is policy in this situation to shoot them.

excuse me while I go puke forever
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:36 AM on May 31


The people that came up with the policy are not only morally depraved, but stupid as well. State or Federal law probably prohibits them from releasing those prisoners, but it also forbids them to murder them. So does the US Constitution, and human decency. Abandoning them would also be forbidden by law, the Constitution, and human decency. Given a choice between these options - murder, abandonment, and release - the least bad and least illegal option is release.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:02 AM on June 1 [1 favorite]


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