Recent media coverage after the prison break documenting physical abuse and torture perpetrated upon incarcerated persons by corrections officers in Clinton Correctional Facility was no surprise to long termers behind the wall. Additional allegations of correctional officers involvement in the homicide of an incarcerated man within Fishkill Correctional Facility were reported. These events simply illustrate daily life in New York State prisons. These are not isolated incidents conducted by a few “bad apples”. Rather the use of brutality by correctional officers is endemic and systematic within the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Services (NYSDOCCS). In plain English, this happens in EVERY correctional facility within New York State with frightening regularity. Every facility I’ve been incarcerated in has had a crew of correctional officers known for their brutality who with the tacit approval of their superiors are called upon to “deal with problem inmates”. Whether they are dubbed “beat down squads” or “black glove crews” their objective is the same – to maintain a climate of oppression over the incarcerated population through physical abuse, harassment, intimidation, solitary confinement and even murder.
Over the last two years, we heard the clarion call of “Black Lives Matter”. To this I would say, “Incarcerated Lives Matter”, for truly the inhumane New York correctional system gives us a glimpse into a totalitarian future of unrestrained and unaccountable power. I welcome a federal Department of Justice investigation. Until the NYSDOCCS and the powerful correctional officer’s union (NYSCOPBA) are held accountable, the system of brutality and fear will remain unreformed.