Inmates at New York’s Clinton Correctional Facility say they were beaten, choked and slammed against walls by guards seeking information after convicted killers David Sweat and Richard Matt escaped from the upstate prison in June, according to complaints filed by the prisoners.
More than 60 prisoners have filed complaints about alleged abuse with Prisoner’s Legal Services, a nonprofit that provides legal representation to inmates, according to The New York Times. One inmate, Patrick Alexander said he was threatened with waterboarding and physically assaulted as guards asked questions about Matt's and Sweat’s escape.
“The officer … slams my head into the pipe along the wall,” Alexander alleged, according to The Times. “Then he starts punching me in the face.”
Alexander said officers shouted questions as he was punched. “Where are they going? What did you hear?” a guard allegedly demanded.
The inmates charge that the abuse began within hours of Matt's and Sweat's escape on June 6, and continued for days.
The New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision said in a statement that the allegations of abuse have been under investigation by the DOCCS Office of Special Investigations “for several weeks,” and have also been referred to the State Inspector General.
“Any findings of misconduct or abuse against inmates will be punished to the full extent of the law,” said the statement.
Matt was shot and killed 20 days after the prison break near Malone, New York, less than 40 miles from the prison. Sweat was recaptured two days later two miles from the Canadian border. He has been moved to a different prison.
Karen Murtagh, of the Prisoners' Legal Services of New York, confirmed that her office received more than 60 complaints from Clinton inmates following the escape, and her agency has "never seen allegations of abuse like we've seen in the past few weeks."
Several prisoners also said they were transferred in the middle of the night and left in solitary confinement for weeks, she told NBC News, adding that "if the allegations prove true, it appears a few wayward individuals abused their power."