Former Department of Corrections Chief James McDonough said Tuesday that events at his former agency "smacks of torture, sadism, murder, cover up, and ignoring of the facts."
McDonough, the former drug czar and DOC secretary under Gov. Jeb Bush, was responding to a series of reports in the Miami Herald alleging the abusive deaths of inmates and cover-up at the agency. McDonough was tapped to head the prison department by Bush from 2006-2008 after Bush fired Secretary James Crosby, who was convicted for taking kickbacks.
"I am revolted by what I am hearing, just as I am by what I am not hearing,'' said McDonough, a retired army colonel and Purple Heart recipient, in an email Tuesday to Miami Herald reporter Julie Brown. "The latter refers to the silence and lack of sense of outrage by Department officials, or for that matter, other officials.
"There is only so much that can be feigned as we 'wait for the conclusion of an official investigation','' he wrote. "These cases did not end tragically last week; they ended in horrific and suspicious deaths some years ago. Where has the leadership been?"
For the last month, Brown has chronicled how an inmate was herded into a scorching hot shower and left until he collapsed and died, how another inmate was placed in solitary confinement and gassed multiple times by guards after he had begged to be taken to the hospital for a worsening medical condition, and how officials covered up the deaths once they were investigated.
DOC officials who discovered the death of inmate Randall Jordan-Aparo at Franklin Correctional Institution said the prison’s medical staff, corrections officers and supervisors later conspired to fabricate reports and lie to law enforcement about the events of the inmate’s death.
"The IG whistle blower complaint has been filed by pros,'' McDonough continued. "They surely complained within the system as the cases were originally being investigated, and they would have run those complaints up the chain of command. The names I see among them are mature, responsible, and conscientious. They understand the parameters of use of force, its necessity, and its limits. Whistle blowing would have been the last option exercised. They must have been both frustrated and outraged at the inhumanity.
"Where is the outrage from those in charge, within the department and beyond?," he asked.
DOC Secretary Michael Crews issued a statement on Tuesday
after the Miami Herald reported on the whistleblower lawsuit. He said the matter is being investigated by DOC and that "any individuals within its Department accountable if they are found of any wrongdoing."