In June, the escape of two inmates from Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York, thrust security issues at the previously little-considered state prison into the spotlight. A New York Times investigation shows that problems at the facility go way beyond the inability to keep prisoners in their cells, and they’ve been going on for years.
The Times focuses on the case of Leonard Strickland, a Clinton inmate with schizophrenia who died in 2010 after what witnesses claimed was a brutal beating by a group of guards. He received woefully inadequate medical treatment before he died, and according to the autopsy report, he was covered in bruises, missing a tooth, and bleeding from the ears. A video obtained by the Times from after the alleged beating and just before his death shows Strickland apparently unable to stand as he is dragged by Clinton guards. None of the officers or medical professionals involved were punished, and many still work at the prison, the paper reports.
After the escape of Richard Matt and David Sweat this year, Clinton inmates were repeatedly beaten and choked by guards. A letter from an inmate provided to Gawker in June claimed that he had not been allowed outside of his cell for any reason for days after the escape.
Strickland’s case is not unique at Clinton, and Clinton is not unique among New York prisons. The Times also notes the case of Bradley Caesar, a mentally disabled Clinton inmate with no major disciplinary infractions on his record, who died in 2008 after a confrontation with guards. And in August, the paper reported on Samuel Harrell, a bipolar prisoner at Fishkill who was killed after a fight with a group of guards known colloquially as the “Beat Up Squad.” As of that report, no officers had been disciplined in connection with Harrell’s death.