NY Inmates: We Were Beaten After 2 Killers Escaped

Clinton Correctional inmates say they faced officers' wrath after June jailbreak
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 11, 2015 4:46 PM CDT
NY Inmates: We Were Beaten After 2 Killers Escaped
The Clinton Correctional Facility, shown June 17, 2015, in Dannemora, NY.   (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

A daring escape from an upstate New York prison in June didn't go as planned for Richard Matt and David Sweat. But while those two men faced their personal consequences, inmates back at the Clinton Correctional Facility say they were facing their own repercussions for the jailbreak, per a New York Times investigation. A series of prison interviews and letters document "what seemed like a campaign of retribution against dozens of Clinton inmates," the paper reports, including everything from beatings and chokings to stints in solitary, threats of waterboarding, and the removal of good-behavior privileges and items earned over the years on the prison's "honor block." Inmates and investigators say it wasn't these privileges that helped Sweat and Matt escape, but "laziness" on the part of prison guards, who reportedly often slept through overnight shifts.

More than 60 inmates have filed complaints with Prisoners’ Legal Services, an inmate advocacy group, and an inmate council at the prison signed a letter to state officials last month making similar accusations, the Times notes. It appears that inmates thought to be closest to Sweat and Matt received the worst treatment: One who worked with Matt in the tailor shop says a guard put a plastic bag around his head and tightened it until he passed out, while another inmate in the shop says he was thrown in the hole for three weeks and lost his wedding ring and family photos after officers trashed them. Matt's next-door cellmate says he was taken to a broom closet by three corrections officers who beat him and threatened him with waterboarding while yelling questions about the escape at him. He doesn't blame Sweat and Matt, though: "I don't resent them. Maybe I should, but I don't." (More prison stories.)

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