‘I Was Terrified’: Inmates Say They Paid a Brutal Price for a Guard’s Injury
From The New York Times:
The inmates were just starting their day on July 6 when dozens of corrections officers burst into their dormitory, shouting for everyone to get down on the floor. The raid at Mid-State Correctional Facility, outside Utica, N.Y., officials said, was a surprise search for weapons made urgent after a bloody injury to a guard three days earlier.
But over the next two hours, according to inmates, officers beat and stomped on each of the more than 30 prisoners present that morning, screaming curses and racial epithets and destroying property. Several men said their ribs were broken by kicks and punches. A 58-year-old prisoner said he was rammed, headfirst, through the Sheetrock wall in his room. Down the hall, a 41-year-old inmate said his nose was broken as a guard repeatedly slammed a metal door into his face.
In a whispered interview last month in the visiting room of the medium-security prison, a 50-year-old inmate from Brooklyn recalled how an officer knelt beside him as he lay on the floor. The prisoner, Raymond Broccoli, who is serving a six-year sentence for robbery, said the officer hissed, “You want to know what it feels like to feel weak?” Mr. Broccoli said the guard then jammed “something metal” into his rectum. “It was bigger than a pen, about the size of those small flashlights they carry,” he said. At least two other inmates have claimed they were similarly violated.
The prisoners said they were warned to keep quiet and not seek medical treatment, otherwise the guards would attack again. But on Nov. 2, a week after a Marshall Project reporter asked about the episode, the state’s corrections commissioner suspended the prison’s two top officials, the superintendent and his deputy, pending an inquiry.
A spokesman for the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision said that its Office of Special Investigations and State Police officers were investigating the dormitory raid and the July 3 injury to the prison guard that preceded it.
The department “will not tolerate any wrongdoing that puts the safety of its facilities at risk, and will not hesitate to pursue disciplinary charges or refer cases for criminal prosecution if warranted,” the spokesman said.
Investigators face dueling narratives: The guards’ union insists the injured officer was the victim of a planned attack by two prisoners affiliated with the Bloods street gang. Inmates cite a different culprit, a rickety reclining chair from which the officer fell, gashing his head as the two prisoners rushed to his aid.
The CA has been monitoring the high rates of suicide and self-harm in the state prisons for more than a decade and has repeatedly drawn attention to excessively high rates of harm at certain prisons and in specific locations, such as solitary confinement and residential mental health units, to the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS), the Office of Mental Health (OMH) and the legislature in the CA’s reports and legislative testimonies. DOCCS suicide rate from 2010-16 was 56% higher than the national average for all US prisons.Read More
If New York state were punishing misbehaving prisoners by pulling out their fingernails, I believe our local senators and assemblymen would put a stop to this. Yet the legislature continues to allow the extended use of solitary confinement in prisons. Make no mistake, this is torture. Don’t take my word for it. Go spend 15 [...]Read More
Reports & Research
“Solitary at Southport: A 2017 Report Based Upon the Correctional Association’s Visits, Data Analysis, & First-Hand Accounts of the Torture of Solitary Confinement from One of New York’s Supermax Prisons”
“The isolation itself is torture. Mentally and emotionally, it breaks you down. Spiritually it strips you. The way it is built is to break you down as a person and push your family away.” From “Solitary at Southport” Solitary confinement is torture. New York State subjects people to solitary confinement and other forms of isolation [...]Read More