A state senator is asking the Department of Corrections to turn over documents regarding the cover-up and investigation of suspicious inmate deaths at Florida prisons, warning that the use excessive force may have violated the constitutional ban on "cruel and unusual punishment."
Sen. Darren Soto, D-Orlando, sent the letter to DOC Secretary Michael Crews in response to a Miami Herald report that chief investigators for both Gov. Rick Scott and the agency were told of the suspicious inmate deaths by an anonymous letter writer more than a year before news reports about the deaths prompted the agency to crackdown on abusive guards.
"If they did receive information and nobody did anything about it, we may have to replace some of the auditors,'' said Soto, a member of the Senate Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Committee which oversees prisons. "I'm worried about the potential liability to the state and the potential of a federal takeover if we are violating the constitution."
Soto asked for all documents relating to the September 2010 death of Randall Jordan-Aparo at Franklin Correctional Institution and Darren Rainey at Dade Correctional in 2012.
"Regardless of the crimes committee by these individuals, we have a constitutional obligation under the 8th Amendment of the United States Constitution to refrain from cruel and unusual punishment and to treat them humanely,'' he wrote to Crews. "These allegations may implicate a direct violation of these rights." Download 9.26.14 Soto Letter to Secretary Crews
Crews responded that a web site he has developed to post details about inmate deaths already provides much of what he is seeking.