CITIZEN PRESENTATION BY WALTER CLARK, PRESIDENT AND SPECIAL CONSULTANT FOR THE AFRICAN AMERICAN GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, INC., RE: SAFETY OF INMATE POPULATION IN MIAMI-DADE COUNTY JAILS
Jose "Pepe" Diaz, Prime Sponsor
Public Safety & Healthcare Admin Cmte
Mr. Walter Clark, 8210 Florida Drive, Pembroke Pines, appeared before the Committee and noted he had received several complaints from Corrections and Rehabilitation Department (CRD) employees regarding inmate safety. He explained that the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) produced a documentary on the inmate conditions in Miami-Dade County jails. He noted Commissioner Edmonson asked the CRD Director, Mr. Timothy Ryan, at this Committee’s April 12, 2011 meeting whether he was aware of the BBC documentary, and Mr. Ryan said he had no knowledge of this documentary; when in actuality, he was aware of it. Mr. Clark noted that he asked the CRD Director if he was aware that two inmates had committed suicide, and that the Director stated he was not familiar with these deaths.
Mr. Clark clarified that the BBC video talked about stabbings, extortion, and inmates in control. He noted that if a person was arrested and went to jail, then that person was at the mercy of the inmates. He explained that the inmates were assigning newly incarcerated persons to bunks, telling newly incarcerated persons when they could take showers, and were controlling who received the commissary sent to inmates.
Mr. Clark noted that a CRD Internal Affairs Unit report indicated a male supervisor and corrections officers were found guilty of verbally abusing female inmates at the Women’s Detention Center by calling them derogatory names. He advised that although the CRD Director had signed off on the investigation, the Department did not render any discipline against the abusive employees, who were still working at the Center. He later said they only received a Record of Counseling.
Mr. Clark pointed out that the CRD Director violated civil rights when he disregarded 12 African-American employees while he tried to hire Hispanics and Anglos. He noted when that violation was discovered, the Director had to redo the hiring process, hire the 12 African-American employees, and pay them restitution for being excluded from the list for more than six months.
Mr. Clark noted the CRD Internal Affairs Division was corrupt. He explained that if an internal affairs investigation lasted a certain amount of time, even if the officer was found guilty of the infraction(s), no discipline could be issued because the timeframe to issue discipline had expired.
Commissioner Jordan expressed concern regarding the seriousness of the allegations made by Mr. Clark and the BBC documentary. She expressed concern that a timeline could be deliberately used to disregard the CRD discipline process, in order to downplay infractions. Commissioner Jordan noted the County had an established progressive discipline process that started with reprimand and ended with termination. She noted that Mr. Clark had shown her the Internal Affairs investigative report that sustained the allegations he mentioned. Commissioner Jordan expressed concern that management of the County’s correctional facilities seemed to be disregarded because of the way the incarcerated persons were viewed. She urged the Committee members to watch the BBC documentary. She noted it explained that the stronger inmates preyed on the weaker ones and extorted money from their families in exchange for their protection. Commissioner Jordan asked the Inspector General to investigate the allegations in Mr. Clark’s presentation, and in the report aired by the BBC regarding the Department.
Chairman Diaz noted he had already requested that the County Administration investigate these allegations. He explained that he did not want the Committee to hold a discussion regarding this issue while these investigations were ongoing.
Mr. Christopher Mazzella, Inspector General, noted he would work with the County Administration to review the issues and provide an assessment.
Chairman Diaz asked the Office of Sustainability (OOS) Director to investigate allegations that the Corrections and Rehabilitation Department (CRD) Director was not truthful when questioned by Commissioner Edmonson at the April 12, 2011, Public Safety & Healthcare Administration Committee meeting, as to whether he was aware of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) documentary on the conditions of the inmate population in Miami-Dade County; and that he was unaware that two inmates committed suicide; as well as the allegations of stabbings and extortion in County jails; that inmates were deciding who sleeps where, when each inmate showers, and whether or not inmates receive commissary from family members. He also asked the OOS Director to investigate allegations that male supervisors and officers were investigated and found guilty for verbally abusing inmates, but were still working at the Women’s Detention Facility; that the CRD was charged with civil rights violations for unfair hiring practices and forced to reform their hiring process and pay restitution to 12 job applicants; and alleged corruption within the CRD’s Internal Affairs Division and drawn out investigations by that division.
There is no text currently available online for this item.