Harold Hempstead believes in honouring the truth.
He's a man who will not be silenced until the truth bears fruit - the fruit of justice. This is a rare man with an incredible story to tell and I feel honoured to be working with him. Please hear his story with an open mind, reflect on what you've read and be ready to take action to help the cause of truth, justice and human rights.
"The amount of witnesses and evidence that exist proves Ofc. Clark was torturing mentally disabled inmates and that he murdered Rainey. Affiant cannot think of any reason why an arrest and prosecution hasn’t been instituted against Ofc. Clark and etc. since June 23, 2012 with as much witnesses and evidence existing that proves Rainey’s murder. Affiant prays that the Rainey’s murder hasn’t been receiving the treatment that it has received because Rainey was a poor, black mentally disabled, Muslim, prisoner and his life did not matter. Affiant prays that the U.S. Department of Justice and State of Florida will not let Rainey’s killers get away with murder, and that they make a public statement that Rainey’s life and the lives of all poor people, all black people, all mentally disabled people, all Muslims, and all prisoners matter by arresting and prosecuting Raineys killers."
From a sworn affidavit by Harold Hempstead to Ms Vanita Gupta, Assistant U.S. Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice, 5th May, 2016.
You can read the complete document here:
INTERVIEW WITH HAROLD HEMPSTEAD, MURDER-WITNESS.
Jeremy Schanche: Now Harold, I’d like to introduce you to some folks in my country of Cornwall and all around this old world, readers of The Limpet newspaper. First of all, if I may, I’d like to start by asking you your full name, date of birth and nationality.
Harold Hempstead: My full name is Harold William Joseph Hempstead. I’m known by family and friends by a short version of my middle name which is “Joe.” I was born March 5, 1976, in St.Petersburg Florida, and I’m American.
JS: And would you tell us where you live please Harold?
HH: I’m currently incarcerated at Martin Correctional Institution which is in Indiantown, Florida, in the United States of America.
JS: And how do you come to be in such a place?
HH: I was placed in prison when two people told the police that I told them to burglarize several houses, and pawn stolen property. In Florida, if anybody tells the police that you told them to commit a crime, you can be incarcerated like you committed the crime. The foregoing led to me being placed in prison on thirty-four counts of burglary and one count of dealing in stolen property.
JS: Now, would you please tell us when you were first imprisoned on these charges?
HH: I was arrested March 23, 1999, and I’ve been incarcerated since.
JS: And when are you due for release?
HH: I was sentenced in April 2000 to 165 years in the Florida Department of Corrections
JS: Could you repeat that please?
HH: I was sentenced in April 2000 to a hundred and sixty-five years in FDC.
JS: You mean to say you got 165 years for allegedly telling others to rob some houses?
JS: That’s absolutely insane! I live in Great Britain, and I estimate that over here, a case like yours would carry a maximum sentence of three or four years actual time served at the very most, possibly less. Effectively you’ve been given a life-sentence for your alleged involvement in a cluster of non-violent robberies then, is that so?
HH: Yes. I’m convicted under an aidder and abettor theory which means I’m convicted for crimes others committed. Also when they committed the crimes nobody was home and nobody was hurt.
JS: Well, it certainly is a draconian sentence, I’m sure it’s hard for a lot of readers out there to believe that such a thing could happen in a country like the U.S.A. But then again, you have been a model-prisoner so surely you must be eligible for parole at some point?
HH: The parole system was abolished in Florida in the early eighties.
JS: You mean to tell me that the State of Florida has no parole-system whatsoever?
JS: This just gets more and more surreal! Now Harold, until not so long ago you were just another ‘forgotten’ prisoner languishing in the vast American prison system, but now stories about you and another prisoner have appeared in The Miami Herald, The New Yorker and The Guardian (from over here in Britain), as well as CBS Miami Local, Fox News, The New York Daily News etc.. Why is your name popping up more and more in global media, what event triggered this media interest in your case?
HH: When I was incarcerated at Dade Correctional Institution in the FDC, staff were torturing and abusing mentally disabled inmates. Staff were starving them and physically and psychologically abusing them. In January 2012 staff started using a shower in the Transitional Care Unit (TCU) (which is like a mental hospital) that reached temperatures in excess of 180 degrees as a torturing device. They would place inmates in the shower and turn it on full hot with no cold. It would get so hot in the shower the patients would have to fight to breathe and not pass-out. Over a six-month period staff placed five inmates in that shower as punishment. The fifth inmate (Darren Rainey) was killed in the shower. When he passed out from heat exhaustion, his body fell over the shower drain. Rainey’s body blocking the drain caused the 183 degree shower water to rise over Rainey’s body, and cook his body for approximately 18 minutes. The led to Rainey’s skin suffering from a medical term called slippage which means Rainey’s skin was slipping off his body.
For about two years, I submitted grievances and letters to different people for help with bringing the staff to justice who were torturing and abusing patients and who killed Rainey. Nobody wanted to help till I brought the foregoing to The Miami Herald newspaper in Florida. I spoke with The Miami Herald newspaper in April 2014, and in May 2014 The Herald wrote their first story. Since then, the media and human rights groups across Florida have been making an all-out effort to help in getting justice for the Rainey murder, the torturing and abusing of the mentally disabled at Dade C.I., and in trying to make F.D.C. a safer place from the barbaric conditions and abuses that are so prevalent.
JS: But how can you die from overheating in a shower? Surely they are only hot enough for normal washing purposes, aren’t they? Was anything unusual about this particular shower at the Transitional Care Unit of Dade Correctional Institution in the State of Florida?
HH: The shower Rainey was killed in was rigged where only staff could control the hot and cold water knobs, and the inmate in the shower had no ability to control the foregoing knobs.
JS: But surely if the shower was specially rigged up and the guards kept him in there for that long at that temperature, they should have been charged with killing him, so what happened to those guards?
HH: Darren Rainey’s life was not of much value to a lot of people in Florida because he was a poor, black, mentally disabled, Muslim prisoner. Because of the foregoing, Rainey’s killers are still free.
JS: If you had not persistently written to The Miami Herald this story would never have broken, yet surely, when you live at the mercy of the guards, being a ‘whistle-blower’ must be taking a massive risk. What made you risk your own safety to stand up for a man who was already dead?
HH: Right is right and wrong is wrong. The staff who killed Rainey not only violated state and federal law in murdering Rainey, they also violated the Sixth Commandment in committing murder (Exodus 20:13). Rainey’s killers should be brought to justice by our state and federal government for Rainey’s murder. If they escape prosecution here on Earth, they will not escape prosecution with God.
As a Christian I am commanded to not murder (Exodus 20:13). Just like the Sixth Commandment commands me to not murder, in the positive I’m also commanded to protect life and to help the weak. I’m also commanded to imitate Jesus (1 Corinthians 11:1; Ephesians 5:1) who was a defender of the weak and of those who cannot help themselves.
All human life has value, which includes Darren Rainey. In taking a stand asking for justice for the murder of Rainey, I’m not only taking a stand for the value of his life, but for the value of all human life.
JS: Would you please tell us what were Darren Rainey’s race and religion, his age, diagnosis, crime and sentence please?
HH: Rainey was a black male, he was a Muslim, he was in his fifties, he was schizophrenic, and I believe he had two years for a drug charge.
JS: So you believe all humans have value? Why is that?
HH: Yes, I believe that all human lives have value. The reason I believe this is if what determines the value of life is subjective opinions then we can’t pose an objection to abortion or the killing of any individual. Why? Because if we object to any killing, we’re saying that there was a standard that the killer should’ve followed and not committed the murder that he did. If there’s a standard that should control people’s actions in not committing murder or certain types of murders, then that standard would be objective. If there’s an objective standard that controls the value of life, then that means the value of life can’t be subjective. If it’s subjective, it can’t also be objective; if it’s objective, it can’t also be subjective.
As a Christian I believe the standard that controls the value of life is God’s word (The Bible). Since God is real His word is real, and He has preserved His word throughout time. In Genesis 1:26, 27 it says that we were created in the image and likeness of God. Out of all creation humans were the only thing created in God’s image and likeness. This places us above the rest of God’s creation. Since we were created in God’s image and likeness, to lower the value of any human life is to lower the value of God and the value He placed on us. This is not what God wants. That is why we are commanded to not murder (Exodus 20:13), and that is why only second to loving God, the second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22: 36-40).
JS: Now I know yours is a complex case touching on many related matters and I very much hope we can go into it in much more detail in the near future, but could you please tell us whether abuse of inmates by Florida prison guards is common, in your experience and knowledge, and if so, what are the main forms it takes?
HH: Yes. The abuse of inmates by guards in FDC is very common. The main types of abuse that I’ve seen are staff physically beating up inmates; staff paying inmates to physically or sexually batter inmates; staff starving inmates by not feeding them; staff excessively spraying inmates with chemical agent (mace); staff disposing of the personal property of inmates; and it’s not uncommon for FDC staff to kill inmates.
JS: What you are describing sounds like a wholesale failure of the penal-system in Florida. Human rights abuse of that scale and magnitude is surely a matter of grave international concern. Are there any human rights organizations in the States or abroad, investigating the things you have described?
HH: Yes. Thirteen human rights organizations have asked the United States Department of Justice to investigate the barbaric conditions, abuses, and murders in FDC. Other than the foregoing, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Amnesty International and Stop Prison Abuse Now have been doing a lot to try and put a stop to the unconstitutional conditions in FDC.
JS: After the convict Mark Joiner had collected up all the pieces of Darren Rainey’s skin from the floor of the shower and the staircase, as ordered, what was he told to do with it?
HH: Mark was told to throw the skin that he’d found into the trash.
JS: Harold, before I ask my last question, I’d like to give you my most sincere thanks for giving this interview to The Limpet and I’d like to tell you that an increasing number of people around the World are taking an interest in your case and the cause you are promoting – Justice for the deceased Darren Rainey and justice for all the inmates trying to survive one of the World’s most brutal prison regimes. I hope everyone who reads what you have told us will feel moved to use their freedom wisely and be ready to do something to help these unfortunate prisoners. Of course, The Limpet has no objection to people being locked up if their crimes genuinely necessitate it and obviously some criminals are far too dangerous to be allowed to mix with free society. I am not criticizing the rule of law itself, but the disgustingly inhumane, illegal and wholly unacceptable manner in which it is being applied in Florida. If Florida says it is not the World’s business, then I say, when you cross a certain line, when you beat, rape, starve, torture and murder your prisoners on a regular basis then you have just made yourself the World’s business.
So finally Harold, would you mind telling us how new arrivals were greeted when they were processed into the prison mental hospital at Dade Correctional Institution, Florida?
HH: The Dade C.I. Transitional Care Unit got so bad that in 2012 staff started welcoming the new arrivals to the Transitional Care Unit by stating “welcome to Auschwitz.”
Since conducting the interview, Harold Hempstead has been transferred to a different prison in Florida.
Temperatures stated are expressed in Fahrenheit. 183 Fahrenheit is 83.8 Centigrade.
Rainey’s charge: Darren Rainey was incarcerated for possession of less than two grammes of cocaine.
Mace is known in the U.K. as ‘pepper-spray’.
Exodus 20:13: Thou shalt not kill.
1 Corinthians 11:1: Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.
Ephesians 5:1: Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;
Genesis 1:26, 27: And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
Matthew 22: 36-40: Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.