For days after the June prison break, corrections officers carried out what seemed like a campaign of retribution against dozens of Clinton inmates, particularly those on the honor block, an investigation by The New York Times found. In letters reviewed by The Times, as well as prison interviews, inmates described a strikingly similar litany of abuses, including being beaten while handcuffed, choked and slammed against cell bars and walls.
They were also subjected to harsh policies ordered by the State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision: Dozens of inmates, many of whom had won the right to live on the honor block after years of good behavior, were transferred out of Clinton to other prisons. Many were placed in solitary confinement, and stripped of privileges they had accrued over the years — even though no prisoners have yet to be linked to Mr. Matt’s and Mr. Sweat’s actions.Indeed, it is prison employees who have been implicated: One has pleaded guilty to aiding the escape; another faces criminal charges; nine officers have been suspended and the prison’s leadership has been removed.More than 60 inmates have filed complaints with Prisoners’ Legal Services, an organization that assists indigent prisoners. And 10 members of an inmate council at Clinton signed a letter last month to state corrections officials making similar allegations.“We have been daily getting complaints along these lines from around the state,” said Michael Cassidy, a lawyer for Prisoners’ Legal Services.
One of the prisoners was beaten just hours after Governor Cuomo spoke to him and "stared him down":
It would be several hours before the first details of the escape were made public. Around 11 a.m., Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo toured the honor block and inspected the holes that the inmates had cut in the backs of their cells with hacksaw blades.The governor then stopped to question Mr. Alexander.“Must have kept you awake with all that cutting, huh?” Mr. Cuomo asked, according to video of the exchange. Then, Mr. Alexander said, the governor “gave me his best tough guy stare and walked off.”
Later, the governor said he would be “shocked” if any correction officers were involved.Twice during the day of the escape, Mr. Alexander said that he was questioned by investigators from the State Police and Corrections Department inspector general’s office.Then, at about 8 p.m., he was handcuffed and taken to a broom closet where, he said, three corrections officers whom he had never seen before interrogated him. An officer wearing a jacket with the initials C.I.U. — Crisis Intervention Unit — sat down and asked him, “Do you know the difference between this interview and those other interviews?” Mr. Alexander recalled.This time, the officer warned, there were only uniformed guards in the room, Mr. Alexander said.
“The officer jumps up and grabs me by my throat, lifts me out of the chair, slams my head into the pipe along the wall,” he said. “Then he starts punching me in the face. The other two get up and start hitting me also in the ribs and stomach.”With each punch, Mr. Alexander said, the officers shouted another question.“The whole time he’s holding me up by my throat,” he added.When Mr. Alexander repeatedly insisted that he had no information, one officer pointed to a plastic bag hanging on some pipes, asked if he knew what it was for and said, “You know what waterboarding is?” Mr. Alexander recalled.The officer then put the bag over his head and started beating him again, Mr. Alexander said.
He said the interrogation lasted about 20 minutes, and he was then taken, bleeding, back to his cell.
Later, Mr. Alexander said, the same officer “began quietly taunting and threatening me, telling me, ‘Don’t worry, Fat Boy, we’ll be seeing you really soon.’ ”
Gee, how convenient that the prisoner next to Richard Matt, the guy Cuomo gave a tough guy stare down to, got beaten just hours after Cuomo left the prison.
Clearly the message came from the top, do whatever you have to do to get information that will help track down the prisoners.
Did Cuomo order the beatings of the prisoners?
Probably not in so many words, no.
But the visit to the prison, the tough guy stance, certainly contributed to the disgraceful doings at Dannemora after the prison break.
There needs to be an independent investigation of this, one that is not controlled by Cuomo.
Louis Flores noted this on twitter:
Preet probed Rikers over inmate abuse. Now abuse at #Clinton ? @perdidostschool @N8TchsGr8 @sullio @CuomoWatch @danarubinstein @MercyMercyf— Louis Flores (@maslowsneeds) August 11, 2015
If the Rikers abuse needed a Bharara investigation, so does the Dannemora abuse.