VOICES FROM CLINTON: First-Hand Accounts of Brutality, Torture, And Cover-up From People Incarcerated at an Infamously Abusive New York State Prison
New York State prisons are plagued by a pervasive and entrenched culture of staff brutality, violence, abuse, racism, dehumanization, and intimidation, as well as the routine infliction of solitary confinement. As Correctional Association of NY (CA) reports on Clinton, Attica, Greene, Fishkill Correctional Facilities and other prisons have long documented, these abuses and their cover-ups are regular and typical practices in Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) prisons. An underlying culture and environment of abuse – not the acts of a few individual bad actors – drive the dehumanization and brutalization taking place. This culture is undergirded and fueled by racism, staff impunity, a lack of meaningful programs, a history of violent repression (especially at Attica and Clinton), and a reliance on force, punishment, and disempowerment.
In the mid-1990s, the New York Times reported that federal judges “have repeatedly found that excessive force by guards has violated [incarcerated persons’] civil rights,” that corrections experts found the settling of 10 brutality lawsuits at Clinton to be “extraordinary, since [incarcerated persons] rarely win such cases and officials rarely settle them,” that Clinton had an “internal culture that tolerates a higher level of violence than others, and where guards are more likely to test the boundaries of what is considered acceptable force,” and that vast racial and cultural disparities between incarcerated persons and staff exacerbated conflicts. As reported in the CA’s 2014 Clinton report, as well as in its August 2015 documented investigations, officers at Clinton have engaged in the most horrific violence against incarcerated people long before the June 2015 escape, in its immediate aftermath, and still today. People incarcerated at Clinton have given first-hand accounts of being suffocated by plastic bags, physically beaten so severely as to result in broken bones, and other forms of brutality, harassment, and abuse.
The June 2015 escape and its aftermath only exacerbated the abusive conditions and provided opportunities for staff to utilize longstanding tactics of dehumanization, racism, and brutality. The following narratives provide an in-depth look at the ongoing brutality, torture, and cover-up at Clinton C.F. Based on over 40 interviews, as well as correspondence with over 75 people, the narratives are a representative sample of the experiences, insights, and analyses of people incarcerated at Clinton in 2015. These narratives paint a picture of several recurring themes of staff violence and abuse at Clinton, including: 1) suffocation of people during interrogations; 2) severe and widespread brutality in the aftermath of the June 2015 escape; 3) longstanding and ongoing brutality at Clinton to this day; 4) people with special needs targeted for abuse by staff; 5) widespread use of solitary confinement, including for years and decades; 6) a lack of transparency and accountability for abuses; 7) the denial of the most basic rights and living conditions; and 8) racism and dehumanization at the core of all abuses. Something must be done to stop these human rights violations – at Clinton and across New York State prisons. Due to its infamous history and ongoing horrors, the state should close Clinton, along with Attica, to send a clear message that New York State will no longer tolerate staff brutality, torture, and abuse.
CA Applauds Commitment to Raise the Age in Governor Cuomo’s State of the State Address, Laments No Mention of Racism, Violence, and Abuse in NYS Prisons
(January 9, 2016) New York, NY: The Correctional Association of New York roundly applauds the continued commitment of Governor Andrew Cuomo to raising the age of criminal responsibility in New York, ending the prosecution and incarceration of 16- and 17-year-olds as adults. It is now up to the members of both parties in the NYS Legislature to do their duty to make this a reality. In spite of the Governor’s assertion that the "nation looks to NY to find a way up," we actually fall behind 48 other states, along with North Carolina, by continuing to treat children as adults in the criminal legal system. New York must Raise the Age of criminal responsibility this legislative session. Read More
For decades, domestic violence survivors have been criminalized, prosecuted, and imprisoned for acts carried out by their abusive partners. In January, 30-year-old Noor Zahi Salman was arrested in connection with the 2016 Pulse nightclub massacre that left 49 people dead and many more injured and traumatized. Salman’s name had, until then, been largely unfamiliar to [...]Read More
Reports & Research
The Correctional Association of NY conducted in depth interviews with 30 people currently incarcerated at Clinton on August 19 and 20, 2015, and corresponded with many more people held at the prison over the last few months. The information reported provides further confirmation of both extensive staff brutality in the aftermath of the June escape [...]Read More
Watch the Correctional Association’s video about the barbaric – and illegal – shackling of incarcerated women during childbirth. In 2009 New York enacted a statute restricting the use of shackles on women during childbirth. The law bans outright the use of restraints on women throughout labor, delivery and recovery “after giving birth,” which is meant [...]Read More