The Inmate Who Exposed Florida Prisons’ Culture Of Cruelty

by Rachel Baker on September 4, 2015

This is the incredible story about the person who brought to light the violent and cruel culture of the Florida prison system. It should probably go without saying this probably isn’t the only prison system in the country with the culture described in the article below.

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‘Definitely evil': The inmate who exposed Florida prisons’ culture of cruelty

Harold Hempstead is a man with two conflicting narratives. One is a criminal past that sent him to prison for life. The other, a courageous pursuit of justice that has shaken the corrupt and crumbling foundation of Florida’s prison system.

Hempstead didn’t set out to be a hero and, perhaps to some people, he isn’t a hero at all. But it is likely that no one would have ever known about the death of a mentally ill inmate named Darren Rainey, or about the systemic culture of physical and mental abuse of inmates in Florida prisons, had it not been for Hempstead.

Hempstead’s steadfast determination to expose the monstrous acts he says he witnessed ultimately brought about an overhaul of the prison system, the firings of top corrections officials and officers, federal arrests and an ongoing investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Hempstead did all this from a prison cell – and in spite of threats, intimidation and a haunting fear that one day he would suffer “an accident” and never wake up.

“What he did took real courage,” said Malcolm Tomlin, a retired Florida corrections officer and prison minister who led Bible studies with Hempstead at Dade Correctional Institution.

“He saw something was wrong and he took a stand. … He was blackballed with the officers. That will go with him wherever he is sent. But he did what was right.”

Hempstead reached out to the Miami Herald – ultimately maintaining a correspondence and engaging in regular phone calls, one as as recently as Friday – after authorities ignored his pleas to investigate the death of Rainey.

This article was written by: Rachel Baker – Click to follow on Twitter; or you can follow her at The Crafty Veteran on Bloglovin. You can also follow her writing about women veteran interests at Shield Sisters

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