Inmates Sue Massachusetts Prison for Alleged Retaliation Beatings

In Summary

More than 100 inmates have filed a lawsuit against a Massachusetts prison after they claim they were viciously attacked and beaten in retaliation of a guard.

WARNING: This story contains discussions of prison violence. 

Prisoners’ Legal Services of Massachusetts, an inmate rights advocacy group, has filed a lawsuit against the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center (SBCC) on behalf of several current and former detainees “of color,” per the Associated Press

According to the lawsuit, roughly 100 inmates were violently beaten by guards at the facility in reprisal for a January 2020 assault on a corrections officer by inmates, with Black and Latino inmates being targeted for “especially brutal and degrading treatment.”  

RELATED: Thousands of Inmates Released Due to COVID-19 Allowed To Remain Home 

WBUR News reported the retaliation attacks included “beating and kicking prisoners; gouging eyes; grabbing testicles; smashing faces into the ground or wall; deploying Taser guns, pepperball guns, and other chemical agents; ordering K9s to menace and bite prisoners; and excessively tightening handcuffs and forcing prisoners’ arms into unnatural and painful positions, among other positional torture tactics.” 

The lawsuit claims that prisoners of color were subjected to racial remarks and slurs leading up to and during the beatings, and some police even wore white nationalist emblems on their helmets, per AP. 

In the aftermath of the attack, legislators paid a visit to SBCC, with Mass Live reporting in February 2020 they cited a lack of oversight and control as a factor in the prisoners’ behavior, including food tainted by rodents and an absence of hygienic care, among other horrific conditions. 

RELATED: Massachusetts Housing Authority Accused of Discriminating Against Tenants 

“We saw Taser burns. We saw dog bites. We saw so much evidence of suicide attempts: cut wrists, ligature marks,” Mass. Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa said at the time, per Mass Live. She added, “The cells are disgusting, I was just really surprised how dirty the cell block was in general.” 

Sabadosa stated that no one should be assaulted in a prison, whether a correctional official or a prisoner. 

In addition to monetary damages, the lawsuit seeks an injunction against the use of excessive force against inmates. 

“This lawsuit aims to bring much needed and overdue justice to the many who were subjected to extreme and unlawful use of force by state officials and officers charged with their care,” said Prisoners’ Legal Services executive director Elizabeth Matos, per AP. 

RELATED: Chance the Rapper and Common Urging Prison Parole Reform in Illinois 

SBCC is Massachusetts’ only post-conviction maximum-security state prison, per its website, currently housing more than 1,000 criminally convicted males. 

If you or someone you know is struggling from trauma triggered by prison violence, resources are available here.

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