The corrections department in Miami-Dade welcomed the first Hispanic woman to head the massive agency ever. Marydell Guevara officially took over six facilities housing 5,000 inmates that have also drawn the attention of the federal government.
Guevara spent 31 years getting to the top job in the corrections department and said problems like the fight between juveniles that took place inside the TGK correctional facility two weeks ago won’t deter her efforts to make improvements.
“What has strengthened my heart and my resolve are the young women and men who have stood behind me,” Guevara said. “They are incredible and for them, I will go through whatever fire to make this happen.”
Still, not everyone was in favor of giving Guevara the top job.
“We can only look forward to more problems emanating from the jail,” said Nathaniel Wilcox of the PULSE Community Group.
Wilcox said it was under Guevara’s watch this year when inmates were seen on video in an open bay area after sexually assaulting a female corrections officers. The woman told NBC 6 no one at corrections called police until she forced them to roughly two-and-a-half months later.
“We have a lady who has a very bad record in her running the jails,” Wilcox said. “People have died uner her watch. Inmates have died. Inmates have escaped and now we have her being put over the jail.”
Police are investigating why they were not contacted when the guard was sexually assaulted. One arrest was made.
Armando Quinoa of the United Correctional Officers Association also expressed concern over those Guevara is selecting to run its everyday operations.
“I do challenge her on some of the appointments that she has made recently even though they are interim,” Quinoa said. “There is some question about moral and ethical behavior on the part of those appointments.”
Guevara said she has a “fabulous team” that was not “brought in overnight” and that the department is working “progressively towards making sure that we are doing what is expected of us.”