A controversial prison is making headlines again after several lawsuits were filed citing correctional officers’ brutal beatings and harassment against former inmates.
The New York Daily News reports that the Southport Correctional facility near Elmira, NY has shelled out $10 million to prisoners in 175 settlements over the past five years. The lawsuits all share the same details of abuse, torture, and mistreatment.
Four lawsuits filed in the past year have claimed beatings from officers left former inmates with intense nightmares. Two of the cases settled out of court for $175,000, while the other two are currently in limbo.
The prison holds an extremely serious reputation for its inmates, who are often transfers from other prisons. Many are taken there after previous infractions or if they are seen as highly dangerous.
The report goes into detail from several lawsuits, including one that left a prisoner with broken ribs.
Tony Tacneau is another Southport inmate who has won a six-figure tax-funded payout after an alleged attack by officers.
The Brooklyn resident, who’s serving 3 1/2 to 7 years for stealing pricey watches, said he got into a verbal dispute with Officer Mastrantonio after he refused to take him outside for his one hour of recreational time on Nov. 24, 2008. Mastrantonio and his colleagues handcuffed his hands and feet — and began wailing away with closed fists, according to a federal suit he filed in July 2009.
“Each officer took their time straddling me, punching me in the face,” he recalled. “I was kicked and stomped about the body and face. I was bent in awkward positions like a contortionist.”
Inmate Marc Payne was also allegedly beaten by officers inside Southport. Payne, 41, who is serving 15 for manslaughter, says his life changed forever inside his cell on April, 6, 2010 at 9:30 a.m. “I was kicked in my lower back while I was halfway thrown over the bed resulting in a broken left rib,” he said.
“I could hear him say, ‘Go to sleep, go to sleep,’” Payne recalled. “After applying severe pressure to my neck, I passed out. I was not aware of how long, but I was awakened by additional punches to my face, kicking, and additional assaults.”
Inmate Jean Belot was also awarded $65,000 in compensatory damages and $55,000 in punitive damages by a jury in Rochester after he was beaten by four officers for having naked drawings on his wall in April 2013. During the alleged beating, his dreadlocks were yanked from his scalp and a metal object (suspected to be a baton) was forced into his rectum.
The officers denied any wrongdoing. It is unknown if they were punished for the beating.
In light of the lawsuits, the state’s Department of Corrections and Community Supervision has implemented new standards, including the use of new security cameras.
SOURCE: New York Daily News | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty