DOJ observes Miami-Dade Corrections Department after critical report

DOJ's 2011 report documents "inadequate care to prisoners with serious chronic medical needs"

By Glenna Milberg - Reporter

MIAMI - The U.S. Department of Justice completed a week-long observation of Miami-Dade Corrections employees.

The observation is part of a county settlement addressing the DOJ Civil Rights division's critical report that found the department "provides constitutionally inadequate medical and mental health care" to inmates.

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Steve Leifman met with the federal observers Friday morning.

"They're very concerned, especially about the conditions on the 9th floor, the mental health floor," Leifman said. "They do not feel health and safety is being adequately addressed at this point."

Leifman has been trumpeting similar concerns for more than a decade.

Miami-Dade grand juries in 2004 and 2008 documented deplorable conditions at the county's jails, including inadequate fire and safety systems, sewage backups, and unsanitary kitchens.

Among DOJ's assessments in its 2011 report, it documented "inadequate care to prisoners with serious chronic medical needs" and found the corrections department "deliberately indifferent to serious medical needs of prisoners."

"Just over the last few weeks, one individual died as a result of not getting appropriate treatment at the jail," said Leifman.

That man is Joaquin Cairo, a homeless man arrested twice in May and June for charges like criminal mischief.

The Miami-Dade Medical Examiner shows Cairo died July 7th in the Dade County Jail, where he had reportedly been left waiting for medical attention.

Cairo's court, jail and Medical Examiner records are now sealed as part of the investigation.

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