46 Green Haven prisoners file lawsuits against NYS alleging abuse and ‘torture’ during lockdown searches
Almost four dozen incarcerated men at Green Haven Correctional Facility have filed multimillion-dollar lawsuits against New York state, claiming they were abused and “tortured” by guards during a lockdown last October.
The prisoners allege they were physically and psychologically abused by members of the New York state Corrections Emergency Response Team (CERT) and other state agents during a state-ordered facility search of the Dutchess County prison Oct. 4 through Oct. 11, 2023.
“Their genitals were kicked, a locker slammed against their head, their eyes gouged, marks left around their wrists from flexy cuffs,” says attorney Danielle Muscatello.
The allegations are outlined in three lawsuits, involving 46 men, filed Jan 2. in the New York State Court of Claims. According to the court documents, the men were subjected to “gang assaults” that were “degrading, outrageous and sadistic.”
“The most egregious part of this is the systemic nature of these attacks on defenseless inmates,” says attorney Bruce Barket. “It was organized and, in our view, approved by the highest-ranking members of the department of corrections.”
The lawsuit alleges the tactical-style team of specialized officers were seen by prisoners at the time of the assaults marching in cadence throughout the prison and heard chanting, “Whose house? Our house."
In some cases, the incarcerated individuals allege their clothes were removed and they were pepper-sprayed in the mouth while beaten. Others claim they were paraded through the facility while handcuffed after an assault. In two cases, men were allegedly water boarded with dirty rags.
The Department of Corrections and Community Supervision denies the allegations in two of the lawsuits brought against the state in separate cases involving incarcerated individuals Charles Wright and Eugene Taylor.
“DOCCS investigates all complaints and allegations of misconduct by staff. Prior to the filing of the two lawsuits, DOCCS was aware of the complaints concerning these two individuals. based on our records at this time, the allegations are untrue,” said a state representative.
DOCCS says it can’t comment on the third lawsuit, filed by 44 prisoners, due to the pending litigation.
According to the lawsuits, many of the prisoners were denied medical care after the attacks and falsely accused of violence against officers. In some cases, incarcerated individuals were allegedly put in the facility’s Specialized Housing Unit (SHU) or transferred to Great Meadow Correctional Facility in Washington County, where the abuse allegedly continued.
As News 12 reported, Green Haven was put into lockdown for several days after state officials said two guards and several incarcerated men were attacked in several incidents, one involving an inmate with a weapon. DOCCS said that 76 weapons were found during the searches, along with suspected narcotics and homemade alcohol.
“We want prison to be safe, but you can’t do it through violence and intimidation and threats of violence,” says Barket.
Many of the prisoners involved in the litigation remain incarcerated. The lawsuits are seeking a combined total of $62 million in damages.
Their attorneys say the men suffered a range in physical injuries because of the alleged attacks, including nerve and tissue damage and broken bones.