BBC Documentary Spurs Investigation into Conditions at "Miami Mega Jail"

Categories: Crime
miamimegajail.jpg
In the documentary, this inmate admits to extorting and stabbing fellow cellmates.
Extortion. Beatings. Stabbings.

When Louis Theroux: Miami Mega Jail first aired on May 22, the BBC documentary made it look like inmates -- not guards -- were really in charge of the Miami-Dade Pre-Trial Detention Center downtown.

Corrections officials say the documentary is misleading, but the scenes were disturbing enough for county commissioner Barbara Jordan to call for an investigation yesterday.

"I haven't even seen the entire video. I'm really frightened about what else is on there," Jordan said. "I don't want this to blow up in our face."

Jones called for the investigation during a Public Safety & Healthcare Administration Committee meeting.

"On this video I heard the inmates say that, for the weaker inmates, that they prey on them," Jones said. "That they not only prey on them, but in order to protect them, they basically extort them and their families, (forcing them) to send money into the jail in order to pay for protection. That is unbelievable and, to me, should be investigated."

Committee chair Jose "Pepe" Diaz countered that he had already called for an investigation, but his explanation was muddier than a Mitt Romney campaign promise.

"The administration is looking into certain things," he said. "The [Inspector General]'s office and some federal departments are already looking into this. We've had the grand jury that did some things. There are some issues going on."

A spokesperson for the Department of Justice did admit to Riptide, however, that there is an ongoing federal investigation into Miami-Dade's jails.

Department of Corrections Director Timothy Ryan, meanwhile, said the BBC documentary is one-sided and relies on inmates' sensationalized accounts of rape, murder, assault, theft, and extortion.

"I'm not going to deny that there are some things that go on (in the jail)," Ryan said. "They do happen. But to the degree that these folks are portraying, I don't think that's true."

"The inmates claim these things because it's easy," he said. "If you happen to be the guy when the camera walks by and you want to be perceived as powerful, you can say anything."

When Riptide pointed out that guards in the documentary readily admit on camera that extortion and beatings are common in the jail, Ryan claimed that his employees don't know what they are talking about either.

"It's kind of an interesting phenomenon among guards," he said. "They watch TV as well, as opposed to really looking at their professional environment and assessing it."

But the documentary doesn't just include interviews with criminals eager to brag about their bad-assedness. It also shows inmates -- all of them awaiting trial and, therefore, innocent until proven guilty -- with their faces smashed to pulp or afraid for their lives.

Here's part one of the documentary. You decide:

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13 comments
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Keno Smith
Keno Smith

Reality has not set in for some of these guys.  Wait until they get to where they are going, prison they will want to get the hell out of of there.  I bet they will all be on their best behavior.

Keno Smith
Keno Smith

Feds need to investigate these people.  Many of them should be doing hard federal time.

Kuei
Kuei

What else would you expect from government employees?

Famousamos1206
Famousamos1206

I wonder if that guard will have his job tomorrow??

hatemeplz
hatemeplz

Hey the only thing I can say is....dont go to jail!!!! Quit bitching because jail is rough.  ITS JAIL!!  I feel sorry for none of those scumbags.  Beat up? Good.  Extorted? Good.  I think they should change nothing there.

Tony Moss
Tony Moss

I'd normally ignore your foolishness, Hatemeplz, but let's just leave it at this:  for that remark, I sincerely hope you get locked up one day for something you didn't do, and I hope you're unable to make bail for weeks.  Let's see how cavalier you are when you finally do get out and find your lifestyle and income in a total wreck, because some overzealous cop decided to take out his daily frustrations on you.  I'm a 23-year indigent defender, so I see it every day.  (BTW, are you white by any chance?  I thought so.)

hatemeplz
hatemeplz

Tony, I just don't break the law.  Pretty simple.  Oh and reference the skin color thing....shocking you would go down that road.  Whatever....chip meet shoulder..

Heathercoppenrath59
Heathercoppenrath59

Inmates for child support violations are in there. They can't pay from a bad economy and end up tortured while the kids mom is livin' it up and not "sharing" the child who now has no father figure...

Michael Miller
Michael Miller

The documentary shows one inmate whose eyes are nearly swollen shut from a group beating. His alleged offense? Driving with a suspended license. This is jail, not prison. Many of these inmates have never been convicted of anything, so it's not as simple as saying that only bad people end up in jail.

hatemeplz
hatemeplz

People don't just get randomly picked up for attempted murder, aggravated battery, etc etc.  Yes, innocent until proven guilty and you have the option to bail out, if not then wait there until trial.  If you are not given bail then guess what....whatever the hell you did was bad enough for a judge to deny you bail my friend.  Look,  jail sucks.  Its not supposed to be the Hilton.  Its not supposed to be comfy.  That documentary serves as an awesome deterent for people to stay out of trouble and simply not break the law.  Jail is a hard, shitty place that no one wants to go to.  Always has been and always will be.  No documentary will ever change that.....sorry.

Poosonyoos
Poosonyoos

If only they had a street savvy interviewer who understood without clarification that to "throw down my flag" in disrespect is a gang reference. Any American public school student would know that but  too bad the BBC interviewer didn't/

sarahmee
sarahmee

 Starting this year your child (or children) cannot be denied coverage simply because they have a pre-existing health condition. If you don't have insurance for you and your children search "Penny Health Insurance" online they are the best.

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