|City/Town: • Miami|
|Location Class: • Penitentiary|
|Built: • 1974 | Abandoned: • 2010s|
|Status: • Abandoned|
|Photojournalist: • David Bulit|
The North Dade Detention Center located in Miami opened in 1974 as part of a master plan involving the construction of jails in local communities to serve the local population. This facility was the only one built under this concept and would close just two years later in 1976, wherein it was leased to the State of Florida. The North Dade Detention Center would be used by the Miami-Dade Corrections and Rehabilitation Department (MDCR), or better known as simply Dade County Jail, as a work release center until its closure sometime in the mid-2010s.
The Dade County Sheriff’s Office was established in 1836 to serve the newly created county of Dade, the jail system was operated as part of the office. Dade County would later be split into four counties, Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, and Martin. Today, the MDCR operates six detention facilities along with many smaller community facilities and is the 7th largest county jail system in the United States.
The Miami-Dade corrections system has notoriously been known as having some of the worst facilities in the United States with a history of violence, overcrowding, and mistreatment of the mentally ill. In 2010, a federal report listed the county’s Pretrial Detention Center as one of the worst in America for sexual abuse. MDCR partnered with Just Detention International, an advocacy organization that works to stop prison rape, to address the problem. In July 2014, a federal audit found Miami’s system became one of the first large urban jails to comply with federal prison standards for protecting inmates from sexual assault, considered a monumental achievement especially given the jail’s history. The jail has become a national model for rape prevention.
More than 1,000 inmates in the Miami-Dade corrections system take some sort of psychiatric drugs, making it one of the largest warehouses for people with mental illnesses in Florida. The Pretrial Detention Center ninth floor was the jail’s psychiatric ward was known nation-wide for its mistreatment of mentally ill inmates. Scrutinied by the U.S. Department of Justice, the ward was closed and inmates were transferred to newly refurbished units at Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center, featuring outdoor space for inmates to get fresh air and exercise, and the Jackson Health System provides therapeutic programs. With these rehauls of the MDCR, many facilities such as the North Dade Detention Center were closed in lieu of more modern and up-to-date facilities. While the county’s correctional system still has problems, these are steps in the right direction.