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Federal judge is 'deeply concerned' about suicides in Miami-Dade jails

Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center near Miami International Airport
Alexia Fodere via Miami Herald
Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center near Miami International Airport

Miami-Dade's corrections department remains under court supervision, and a federal judge is getting more frustrated about suicides in county jails.

Another suicide in a Miami-Dade County jail has a federal judge raising serious concerns with county leadership over its treatment of inmates.

U.S. District Court Judge Beth Bloom grilled county mayor Daniella Levine Cava about the county’s plan to open a mental health facility at a recent hearing, WLRN news partner the Miami Herald reports.

Miami-Dade County previously told Bloom the facility — meant to treat people with mental illnesses rather than jail them — would be open earlier this year. That still hasn’t happened.

READ MORE: 'Clock is ticking' on Miami−Dade jails to reduce high number of inmate deaths

At a hearing this month, Bloom probed the county about a death in one of its jails. Last November, Daniesqui Lache Rodriguez died by suicide at the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center. Bloom asked the county how this occurred, and asked if the death could have been prevented if the facility had been open.

In an order to show cause filed by the court earlier this month, Bloom showed frustration with the ongoing issue of suicides in the jails and the treatment of inmates with mental health concerns.

"This Court remains deeply concerned about the processes in place to appropriately address the treatment of inmates with mental health conditions," Bloom wrote when ordering the county to appear for a hearing.

WLRN previously reported that the Miami-Dade County’s corrections department was at risk of being penalized by a federal court owing to a high number of suicides in its facilities. The county’s jails have been under a federal consent decree for over a decade after federal inspectors in the early 2010s found the jails were not meeting the minimum standards for inmate health required by the U.S. Constitution.

In the worst case scenario, if the court deems Miami-Dade County unfit to run its own jails, it may appoint a third-party receiver to control the corrections system.

The county seemed on track to get out from under the consent decree, but the death of Rodriguez had Bloom frustrated at the county’s progress, according to the Herald.

Cava told Bloom that the mental health facility may be opened by the end of this year, but she could make no guarantees.

Bloom scheduled another hearing for Oct. 25 to get a status update.

Copyright 2024 WLRN Public Media

Joshua Ceballos