For days after two murderers escaped from a New York state prison in June, corrections officers carried out what seemed like a campaign of retribution against dozens of inmates, particularly those on the “honor block,” the New York Times reports. Inmates described a similar catalog of abuses, including being beaten while handcuffed, choked and slammed against cell bars and walls. They were also subjected to harsh policies ordered by the state corrrections department. Dozens of inmates, many of whom had won the right to live on the honor block after years of good behavior, were transferred to other prisons. Many were put in solitary confinement and stripped of privileges, even though no prisoners have been linked to the escapees. Inmate accounts suggest that as corrections officers frantically pressed for information that could lead to the capture of the prisoners, and exonerate themselves for security lapses that contributed to the breakout, they resorted to brutal tactics that likely violated the rules.
It is employees who have been implicated: One has pleaded guilty to aiding the escape; another faces criminal charges; nine officers have been suspended; and the prison’s leadership has been removed. More than 60 inmates have filed complaints with Prisoners’ Legal Services of New York, an organization that aids indigent prisoners. Ten members of an inmate council at the prison signed a letter last month to state corrections officials making similar allegations. “We have been daily getting complaints along these lines from around the state,” said Michael Cassidy of Prisoners' Legal Services. The corrections department said, “Any findings of misconduct or abuse against inmates will be punished to the full extent of the law.”