The U.S. Justice Department is investigating the death in a scalding shower of a Florida prisoner and may conduct a broader civil rights probe of state prisons.
Existence of the criminal investigation into the 2012 death of Darren Rainey was confirmed in a recent Justice Department letter to the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, which last year requested the probe. Rainey died after he was locked in the shower at Dade Correctional Institute.
The letter also says the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division is considering a "pattern or practice" probe into allegations of mistreatment of mentally ill inmates across Florida prisons.
The Miami Herald first reported about the investigation Wednesday.
The state's prison system has come under fire for suspicious inmate deaths, poor conditions and cover-ups.