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"The Florida Department of Corrections is riddled with amoral, sadistic sociopaths and the people who support, enable, and cover-up their crimes." ~ @GeoMallinckrodt . . . (Twitter address)
"If what is done to mentally ill Florida inmates was done in the military, these would be considered war crimes." ~George Mallinckrodt
Refusing to let go of the notion he could make a difference, George encountered inmates with deep rooted pathologies he had only read about in psychology journals. Undaunted, he steadily set about helping those capable of benefitting from his nearly 20 years of counseling experience.
Behind the scenes, rumors began to circulate regarding inmate abuse. Guards cleverly masked their behavior by choosing the weak and mentally ill. They abused inmates at night when mental health staffers were not around.
Overly confident that their misdeeds would go unpunished, guards made the mistake of beating an inmate during the day as an eye-witness looked on. That was the day that changed everything.
George Mallinckrodt writes a gritty, mesmerizing account of his three years as psychotherapist in the "Transitional Care Unit" of the Dade Correctional Institution in south Florida, where inmates with mental health problems, including the most severe mental illnesses, are housed.
It's hard to put this book down. Although the subject is depressing, he weaves ribald prison humor and lively dialogue into his story. Mallinckrodt tells of his struggle with "being in prison" at a difficult and frustrating job. It is also a story about the inhumane and dangerous conditions for inmates in a run-down, poorly managed prison. Retribution keeps the inmates and the staff from reporting abuse. His journey from stressed out employee to prison rights advocate takes on greater urgency when a mentally ill inmate is brutally tortured and murdered by corrections officers in the prison and incident is completely covered up by authorities. (The investigation of the murder of the mentally ill inmate has still not been completed two years later.)
This book leaves you with the uncomfortable knowledge that terrible abuse is probably happening to inmates on a daily basis in badly managed prisons throughout the U.S., especially to inmates suffering from mental illness. If it were not for a few brave souls who are willing to report it, like Mallinckrodt and the inmates themselves, no one would ever know.