Federal prosecutors are investigating allegations that corrections officers at Sing Sing Correctional Facility in Ossining, N.Y., orchestrated beatings in a prisonwide search in November, sending seven prisoners to the hospital and more than 20 others to a medical unit. A flood of officers, including special teams from other prisons, converged on cells over at least two days, ordering prisoners to strip to their boxer shorts and then punching and kicking them and slamming their heads against walls or floors, according to affidavits by 26 inmates who are part of a lawsuit against New York State, reports the New York Times.
The allegations are supported by hospital records and an interview with Shamel Capers, a former Sing Sing inmate who is not part of the lawsuit, who gave a firsthand account of violence that occurred just days before he was released. The prisoners describe one officer holding a man’s arm against a radiator, burning him, and another officer twisting a prisoner’s wrist and thumb and threatening to break his hand. Another prisoner describes how he was blinded for days after being pepper-sprayed while he was handcuffed. Bruce Barket, a lawyer whose firm filed the lawsuit said it reported the allegations to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan, which he said was investigating along with the FBI. Barket said federal investigators have interviewed at least seven prisoners. “This was nothing short of a planned attack on incarcerated men by correction officers,” said Barket. “Worse, it was approved of and overseen by high-ranking officials in the prison ... In our view, staff and supervisors engaged in criminal conduct, and should be held accountable. The suit seeks $1 million in damages for each prisoner.