The latest in the New York Times’s string of coverage of the horrors of life inside New York prisons tells the story of an assault on one inmate by another which was architected by guards who sought to punish the victim. During the attack, the victim screamed for help as a guard watched through a cell door and did nothing, according to the report.
An investigation by the New York State Office of the Inspector General found that a group of five officers at Greene Correctional Facility asked Raffi Mata, a convicted killer pictured above, to attack Matthew Thorton, apparently in retaliation for Thorton’s complaints about Greene staffers. In 2014, as Thorton exited the shower, Mata began punching him in the face and torso.
According to records obtained by the Times, one of the guards had Thorton file a false report alleging he’d been injured by falling in the shower, and another asked another inmate to report that Thorton had been “plotting against” prison staff. The real story was more gruesome: officials found that a guard told Mata to “do what you have to do” as he escorted the inmate to Thorton’s cell, and Mata testified that he was told to “take care of business.”
Notablym for a corrections department that rarely punishes its own officers, two of the five officers were fired after the incident. According to the Times, that’s because the investigation was handled by the state inspector general, not the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision’s internal affairs department, which usually conducts such investigations.
If that makes you wonder why an unbiased outside agency doesn’t investigate all instances of alleged guard misconduct, you’re not alone: Daniel O’Donnell, the chair of the New York State Assembly Correction Committee, is calling for the internal affairs department to be dismantled and independent office to replace it, the Times reports.