Jerry Cummings, the warden at Florida’s Dade Correctional Institution when a mentally ill inmate was allegedly tortured and killed in a scalding hot shower, has been fired, the Miami Herald reports. Cummings, who has worked in the state's corrections system for nearly three decades, was terminated less than a week after corrections secretary Michael Crews suspended him in connection with the death of another inmate at the Florida City state prison. In scathing language, Crews said he was firing Cummings and overhauling the prison's leadership in an effort to “restore integrity'' to the prison, which has come under fire as a result of a series of Miami Herald articles about the systematic abuse of inmates in its transitional care unit, or psych ward.
“We need leaders [at DCI] who will act with urgency to protect the safety of the inmates and staff and hold individuals accountable when needed,” Crews said in a written statement, adding that he hoped the firing would “send a message” throughout the state prison system. Corrections officers at DCI have been accused of widespread abuses, including placing prisoners in scalding showers, taunting them needlessly, forcing them to fight each other for sport and withholding their meals. Two years ago, Darren Rainey, 50, was forced into one of the psych ward's small showers and left there by the guards, who laughed at him as he screamed in agony while the scalding water beat upon his body. “It's great that the Department of Corrections is taking tighter control of the reins,” said Howard Simon of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida. “But firing the warden, while not holding the guards who were clearly responsible for Darren Rainey's brutal murder — and keeping them on the job and promoting them doesn't make a lot of sense.”