At North Carolina’s Central Prison in Raleigh, lawyers for inmates say, brutality by officers became routine. Eight inmates in a federal lawsuit alleged that officers who worked inside a solitary confinement block repeatedly committed “malicious and sadistic assaults” in hallways that aren’t monitored by surveillance cameras. All but one of them have won settlements from the state, the Charlotte Observer reports. The prisoners say officers handcuffed them and then beat them so severely that they were left with broken and disfiguring injuries.
Jerome Peters, one inmate who won a settlement, says he was handcuffed from behind and was being escorted to his cell one day in 2012 when three officers assaulted him. The beating was so brutal, he said, “I didn’t know if I was going to live or die.” By the time the officers stopped, he said, his pelvic bone and left arm were fractured. So were bones in his face. His injuries were so severe that for a year after the attack, he was in a wheelchair, unable to walk. Uses of force by North Carolina prison officers has risen sharply over the past decade, state data show. The incidents involving the inmates at Central came to light only because an office that provides legal help for inmates filed a lawsuit. A Charlotte Observer investigation found that assaults on inmates are another sign of systemic problems inside the prison system, where some correctional officers fuel a culture of violence and corruption. Since 2012, more than 25 state correctional officers have been fired for inappropriate uses of force. Many more are never fired, partly because the beatings happened in areas not covered by video cameras, say lawyers for inmates.