by Jessica Lipscomb, originally published in Miami New Times, June 23, 2020
Eight years ago, today, Florida prison guards locked 50-year-old Darren Rainey inside a shower room, set the water temperature to scalding-hot, and turned it on. Roughly two hours later, Rainey collapsed and died inside that 3-by-8.5-foot room. After a five-year investigation, Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle chose to not charge any of the corrections officers with a crime.
Rundle’s decision to clear the officers is largely regarded as one of the biggest stains on her 27-year career as Miami-Dade County’s top prosecutor. Now, as protests mount over the lack of police accountability in America, the Rainey case is receiving renewed attention ahead of Miami-Dade’s August 18 election, in which voters will choose to re-elect Rundle for an eighth term or install her progressive challenger, Melba Pearson, a former prosecutor in Rundle’s office who resigned her post as deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida in order to run against her former boss.
The details of Rainey’s death at the Dade Correctional Institution, a state prison, were sufficiently horrifying to gain national attention. On the night of June 23, 2012, corrections officers took Rainey ...