Monday, September 26, 2011

Open Letter on Conditions at Clinton Correctional

September 26, 2011 South Brooklyn ABCF


Clinton Correctional Facility

PO Box 2001

Dannemora, NY 12929

September 1, 2011


United States Attorney General

Department of Justice

Constitution & 10th St.

N.W., Washington DC 20530

Dear Honorable Eric Holder:

We the undersigned, are writing to you in our Official Capacity as the Inmate Liaison Committee (hereinafter “ILC”) on behalf of the Inmate Population here at Clinton Correctional Facility about the escalating potential for a major riot, due to the wide range of patterns of abuse by staff on Inmates. There continues to be an ongoing epidemic here where Security Staffs are very abusive towards Inmates, both verbally and physically. This matter has been continuously addressed to the Administration through either the Inmate Grievance and/or ILC. However, the Administration has neglected to take any action, namely, disciplinary or otherwise with regard to these matters.

Upon Mr. Thomas LaValley becoming Superintendent of Clinton Correctional Facility, there has been an escalation of antagonism, provocation, verbal abuse, assaults, and even murder of Inmates by the Correction Officials. See Strickland’s murder as well as the other Inmate that was murdered in I.C.P. Special Housing Unit, “D-Block.” Also, while they were killing Strickland in UF-Housing Unit, another group of officers was physically assaulting Thomas Murphy, #83A0818 on October 3, 2010. Not long after, Inmates were still being severely physically assaulted at the Hospitals’ special beating room on the first floor.

Supt. LaValley has a historical pattern of entertaining an attitude of indifference toward Correctional Officials assaulting inmates without provocation. Upon information and belief, Supt. LaValley has had numerous civil lawsuits lodged against him involving assaults against Inmates throughout his entire career as a Corrections Officer, Sergeant, Lieutenant, and Captain, which is now the conduct of his Corrections Officers here at Clinton Correctional Facility.

Moreover, even the institutional records would show while Mr. LaValley was First Deputy Superintendant at Clinton Correctional Facility and when he became the Supt., each and every time, the ILC Committee expressed concern and requested an investigation into said incidents, requested by the General Inmate Population, and the facility Executive Team’s response is always (by way of official policy) that said investigations are being conducted and that said assaults by Corrections Officials toward inmates is not tolerated; however, often shortly following such meetings and assurances by the Fac. Executive Team, another incident involving an officer assaulting an Inmate would occur, as if to say that our complaints and concerns have fallen on deaf ears.

Furthermore, what the facility’s investigative findings often conclude, is that it was the Inmate’s fault or that the Inmate was in possession of contraband of some kind and upon said officers attempting to retrieve said contraband, the Inmate resisted, thus, requiring the use of force by Staff. It’s always the same pattern of reports of an incident fabricated on the ILC representative, should he dare to expresss his concern to the Executive Teams.

In addition, as if by way of conspiratorial design with an intent and a means to justify the Facility’s diabolical ends, the Facility’s assigned orientation Sergeant psychologically prepares newly arrived Inmates to engage in violent behavior. The orientation Sergeant tells each Inmate during his interview the following official policy of the facility’s, namely: “Don’t put your hands on any of my officers or staff, because we are all family members and that we will beat you down ’til you’ll wish you were dead. If you have problems or beef with another Inmate, you are to take care of your problem and beef in the yard and nowhere else— Do you understand?” This is usually emphasized following a few prior personal questions (i.e. Do you have any enemies? How much time are you doing or what is your sentence? D.O.B.? etc.).

By conducting this orientation interview by the Sergeant in this manner and, by telling the Inmate to commit violence on another inmate in the yard, only gives the inmate the clear impression that such violence/assault occurs in the yard. In addition, by encouraging the inmates to commit violence in the North Yard, such violence is deemed to be enough provocation necessary for the officers assigned to the perimeter towers to resort to using their firearms in a hasty attempt to quell the violence. By way of example, during the ILC meeting with the Facility Executive Team and in the presence of Acting Deputy Superintendent/Dept. Supt. Program and Capt. S. M. Lacy, the ILC was conducting an inquiry into the 8-19-11 incident which occured in the North Yard involving approximately 15 inmates and resulted in the Tower Officials using their AR-15 Semi-Automatic rifles. When the ILC questioned the abuse by the officials toward the inmates as a while in the yard following the containment and control of the situation, Capt. Lacy’s response was that verbatim, “He need to send his officers to the target range for practicing their shooting skills, because the officers that were shooting missed their targets. They should have killed at least 2 or 3 inmates!”

Now, upon hearing this remark by Cap. Lacy, the entire ILC committee firmly requested that video surveillance camera be installed through out the entire facility. And, although Capt. Lacy rejected the proposal to install cameras, Acting Superintendent Keyssor did agree to present the ILC’s request to have cameras installed, to the Prison Commissioner of DOCS.

Finally, it is the entire Inmate Population’s belief, as well as the ILC’s belief that the orientation Sergeant’s direct instruction for inmates to commit violence in the North Yard, the officials daily abuse, harassment and assaults toward the inmate population, is being practiced on a daily basis solely as a justification to enhance or otherwise bolster the need for additional employment of Corrections Officers and as a political ploy and argument against further Correction Officials being layed-off.

WHEREFOR, the ILC Committee is requesting an independent and impartial investigation into all of the references made herein concerning such violations by the Corrections Officials involving assault, verbal abuse, killing intimidation in a variety of ways toward the Inmate General Population; the officials have even encouraged and promoted inmates to assault other targeted Inmates on the officers’ behalf.

Dated: Sept 1 2011

Dannemora, New York.

Respectfully submitted,

[five signatures]

cc: File/ILC Committee

Hon. Andrew M. Cuomo

New York State Governor

Hon. Brian Fischer

NYS Prison Commissionern

United States Secretary General

Human Rights Watch Prison Project

Tarvis Smiley


United States Senate

Judiciary Chairman

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