The Snake Pit

The county jail is one of the largest psychiatric facilities in Florida

Miami-Dade County commissioners Katy Sorenson, Barbara Carey-Shuler and Natacha Seijas were also shaken. Sorenson compared what she saw to scenes in a 1948 movie called The Snake Pit, set in a mental institution. Carey-Shuler said she is still having nightmares. "Horrendous, absolutely mind-boggling to know we allow people to exist in those conditions. My heart just broke," she says. "I don't need to see that ever again. It's indelible on my brain. But others need to see it."

Portelles and Nunez, meanwhile, are still on C-Wing. Portelles, picked up in May for driving without a license, is being held on a fugitive warrant from Broward County, where he faces charges of grand theft, drug possession, and battery. He was to be in court Friday.

Arrested in December, Nunez several weeks ago was judged competent and allowed to plead guilty to misdemeanor assault, and sentenced to 364 days in county jail. So he is doing his time -- in four-point restraints. But where does Nunez go when he completes his sentence?

At times, three men are jammed into four-by-eight-foot cells
Steve Satterwhite
At times, three men are jammed into four-by-eight-foot cells
To be heard
through the plate glass, you must shout or talk through the food slot
(top); Dr. Joseph Poitier wearily practices triage (middle); and County
Judge Steven Leifman checks inmate's records (above)
Photos by Steve Satterwhite
To be heard through the plate glass, you must shout or talk through the food slot (top); Dr. Joseph Poitier wearily practices triage (middle); and County Judge Steven Leifman checks inmate's records (above)

"Good question," says Leifman.

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