Life Inside Miami Mega Jail – Prison From Hell


You’ve been charged with a serious crime
you insist you didn’t commit. You’re innocent until proven guilty of course,
but that court date might take a while to arrive. In the meantime your place of residence will
be what’s been called the Miami Mega Jail. You’re still young, have never been to jail
before and you’re not a tough guy, so when you are taken to the floor where you’ll
be housed you can’t believe what you see. Rows of cells filled with scores of men, shouting,
screaming, coming up to the bars and threatening you. It’s utter chaos. Waiting for you in your cell is a welcoming
committee of 20 angry-looking, dangerous men. You are no match for these guys, but you’re
gonna have to fight, make no mistake about that. You’ve just entered an arena of mortal combat. It’s hard to pick which is the worst county
jail in the USA because sadly there are multiple places which could compete to be the top,
or perhaps we should say bottom, of the list. Anyone who’s had a stay at the place we
are going to talk about today won’t be offended we have chosen it as the worst, that’s for
sure. We should say that if you speak to hardened
criminals who’ve been in and out of jail and prisons they will often tell you that
jail is much worse. Many people say jail is dirtier than prison
and much more violent. The place we are talking about today has been
called, “Hell in Paradise”, and after our research we won’t disagree. What we’re actually talking about is called
the “Miami-Dade Corrections and Rehabilitation Department”, which actually consists of
several units including a notorious Boot Camp. Those who don’t get through that camp will
end up in jail, and some of them are still in their teens. The Boot Camp is another story altogether,
but we will say compared to jail it’s a holiday camp. The entire system houses around 7,000 people,
although something like 114,000 folks will pass through the doors each year – that’s
about 312 a day. This is a busy place, that’s for sure. Still, it’s only the 7th largest jail system
in the United States. Most inmates won’t spend long in there and
the average time spent in the entire system is just 22 days, but you’ll also find people
who’ve been waiting trial for as long as five years. This brings us to one of the main units, the
one place that hits the headlines the most for its brutal conditions. It is called the Pre-Trial Detention Center,
or is sometimes referred to as the Main Jail. It usually houses around 1,700 people at a
time. Most of the people there are still technically
innocent since they haven’t been proven guilty, but waiting for that court date might
take years. It’s not easy to settle when in this kind
of limbo, and if you walk past the cells on some floors you’ll see just how unsettled
things are. There are prisoners who have quit even fighting
their cases because they just want to get out of there, innocent or not, they just want
to get to prison. The worst floors are where the alleged most
dangerous offenders are kept and those are floors five and six. The cells here usually house anywhere from
15 to 25 men and within this group there is a kind of hierarchy. As the guys in there like to say a lot, it’s
survival of the fittest, so if you’re not a fighter you might have a hard time. You want a certain bunk, you’ll have to
fight for it. Ok, you don’t care about having the worst
spot in the cell, but what if someone just takes your stuff? As one prisoner in there said, “I exploit
the weak.” If you don’t fight for your things you’ll
have a hell of a time, and we mean that in the negative. If you snitch, you’ll be beaten wherever
you go unless you get put into protection. As another prisoner said in an interview on
your first day in his cell you have to fight simply because they want to check you out
as a man. But why? His reply was if you don’t fight it’s
a sign that something is wrong with you. Maybe you’re a snitch, because you didn’t
want to fight. It sounds unreasonable, but the prisoner said
those are the rules, that’s the code. The thing is, the prisoners can never clearly
explain the rules of the code. One guy did explain that if a person doesn’t
fight one-on-one then in adherence to the code the whole cell might beat that person. Sometimes a guy might be beaten for the smallest
infraction, and sometimes he might have been accused of something he didn’t actually
do. “Who stole my food?” No one replies, and the weakest takes the
beating. You’re powerless, you take the blame. He had to do it, because he’d lose face
if he didn’t. As everyone says in there, you just have to
fight back. They have a lot of unwritten principles they
embrace, and one is called GABOS. That means, “Game Ain’t Based on Sympathy”. Unlike some federal prisons, it’s unlikely
you’ll be taken under anyone’s wing. Jail is way more gladiatorial than prison,
even though we hear less about the brutality of jail systems. Just go onto forums where former prisoners
talk about their experience in the corrections system and you’ll find many of them saying
jail was way worse. The irony of course is that most people haven’t
even been found guilty yet and they are treated worse and face more threats. First timers are absolutely terrified and
in many cases they should be; the mentally unwell get loaded in there; the food is terrible;
the cells are filthy and they’ll spend most of their time in that cell. You’ll find many prisoners saying they’ll
do a “bullet” just to get out of that hellhole. A bullet is a year in prison. Why would jails be home to worse conditions,
you might be wondering. Well, they’re not really meant to keep a
person too long. The problem is, even a short stint can be
hellish and some folks do much more than a short stay if their trial is delayed. Prison is supposed to offer some kind of comfort… Prison is hell with benefits, jail is feeling
constant pain in purgatory and the worst part is you don’t know the way out. Because of that, inmates are often mean, and
angry, and frustrated, and sometimes just plain crazy after coming off an 18-month-long
crank-athon. All that said, imagine being sent to the worst
of these places? Let’s get back to you being taken up to
the 6th floor in Miami. Once in a cell the guard walks off, and those
guards have admitted that they can’t respond to violence fast enough to stop it. They admit they leave the inmates to their
codes. Those guards openly say that there’s nothing
they can do about the severe beatings, the stabbings, the theft. There just aren’t enough of them to be everywhere
and see everything. Once that guard walks away, you are left to
battle it out on the 5th and 6th floors of this ugly, old brown building. But why? Why can’t they just get along? One prisoner answered that, saying, “The
code is the code.” What does that mean? It means if you are seen to have disrespected
someone you fight, you strap up. You don’t reason with a person because this
is not a reasonable place to begin with. People not from the streets, they say, don’t
understand the code of the streets. This kind of wild west attitude goes back
to what scientists have called a, “culture of honor.” You dishonor a guy, you fight, you draw swords,
you take ten paces and shoot. In the outside world we have evolved out of
this for the most part, but inside prison this code, this culture of honor, still pervades. On top of theft and fighting the Main Jail
in Miami has been called one of the worst in America for other kinds of male-on-male
abuse. Terrible things can happen when guards only
patrol the cells once an hour. Weaker inmates are just left like prey among
apex predators. Thankfully, the jail has made a lot of improvements
in the last few years, one being a lot more cameras have been installed. Then there’s the issue of this jail housing
many people who are taking psychiatric drugs. Inmate fights often break out when a mentally
ill person is acting in a way that other inmates don’t like. As the Marshall Project reported, “Miami’s
jail system is the largest institution for mentally ill people in Florida.” Mentally ill people often become the prey,
and end up on the floor with 20 men taking turns to pummel them. This is how withdrawal is treated. On any given day men walk in and out of the
infirmary. It’s like a revolving door splattered with
blood. In fact, there has been so much violence that
the Department of Justice said the Miami-Dade jail system was way out of control and prisoners
as well as guards faced too many dangers. Something had to be done, said the department. A few years back the jail faced a lot of scrutiny
after eight people died in just five months. The DoJ said the three deaths of mentally
unwell people was particularly disturbing. One guy who was in for driving while suspended
went in on a Saturday and was dead the next Monday. Two more died within a week, with a commissioner
saying the system is, “extremely broken.” It turned out that from the eight that died
one had jumped off a landing to escape prisoners that were coming after him to beat him. Knives were also mentioned. The worst floor, that has since closed down,
was sometimes called the “Forgotten Floor.” It was the ninth level where most of the mentally
ill people were kept. This was where prisoners were often left and
neglected, and in too many cases took their own lives. Back in the day on this level prisoners slept
on the floor without blankets, although as a psychiatric facility it was supposed to
be humane. Some prisoners were found to be drinking from
toilets, and when this hit the news the place was called, “horrific”. There was a public outcry. But as you’ve heard, there are still problems
when someone with mental issues gets locked up with modern day street gladiators and bullies
whose code willfully lacks humane values. Not all the floors are as bad as the stories
we have talked about, and in some cases particularly dangerous or vulnerable people will be housed
alone. Nonetheless, end up on one of those high floors
in the main jail and you will certainly see what it’s like to be confined in one of
the toughest jails in the world. There are other problems, too, of a more unusual
ilk. In 2019, 17 people were rushed to hospital
from this place due to some sudden illness. Several staff came down with it, too. What happened? No one really knew. The bomb squad was even called in after a
strange liquid was found, but that turned out to be harmless. The most likely reason people just started
keeling over was smoke fumes from some toxic drug. If inhaling smoke fumes from a distance can
bring a person down with a vicious nausea, what on Earth could they have been smoking
in there? Nerve gas? It just shows how crazy that place is. We’ll leave you with a review we found on
a Facebook page dedicated to this jail: “Welcome to hell. A person would be better off dead rather than
enduring the abuse and torment of being incarcerated in this filthy, disgusting sewer.” You don’t want to get sent to Miami Jail
but you do want to click on one of these two videos. So go watch this video now for another great
video from The Infographics Show or this one over here. You can only choose one though so pick and
go watch another video right now!

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About the Author: Sam Caldwell

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