On July 6, 2016, dozens of officers at the Mid-State Correctional Facility, outside Utica, conducted an unannounced — and inexcusably violent — raid on the prison’s inmates. More than 30 prisoners suffered injuries, according to a report in the New York Times, including broken ribs, broken noses, contusions, and forced sodomy.
The attack was an act of retaliation. Three days earlier, one of the prison’s guards suffered an injury to his head. The causes of his injury are the subject of dispute. The guards’ union claims that prisoners assaulted the officer while he was on duty. Inmates claim that the officer fell out his reclining chair. No camera’s recorded the incident — this is typical of prison incidents — and the injured officer has not responded to media requests for comment.
Victims told not to seek medical help
Reports note that the officers’ raid lasted for two hours. A 41-year-old inmate had a metal door repeatedly slammed into his face. A 58-year-old was “rammed, headfirst, through the Sheetrock wall in his room.” Three prisoners report having been sodomized with flashlights. Victims were warned not to talk or seek medical treatment. Their phone calls and mail, corrections officers said, would be monitored.
The guards were not shy about their motivation. It was a simple means of score-settling. “‘You see why we are doing this,'” one inmate recalled being told. “‘[Because] you guys tried to kill one of ours.'”
Eventually, several of the victims sent letters regarding what had happened to an attorney, Edward Sivin. “The apparent breadth of involvement by correction officers and high-level supervisors at Mid-State in this barbaric and unjustified used of collective punishment is stunning,” Mr. Sivin said. He has since filed a notice of intent to sue the facility on behalf of 32 inmates.
What will the outcomes be?
Investigators have not yet made a determination regarding the sequence of events and who’s to blame. It’s notable, however, that one of the prisoners accused of attacking the corrections officer has since been transferred to a medium-security facility; typically, the New York Times reports, “inmates accused of assaulting officers are given lengthy sentences in isolation at maximum-security prisons.”
Meanwhile, the prison’s superintendent and deputy for security were suspended from their posts earlier this month.