Claim Alleges Campaign of Concerted and Vicious Gang Assaults on Dozens of Prisoners at Sing Sing Correctional Facility
New York—February 23, 2023 – Barket Epstein Kearon Aldea & LoTurco, LLP, a boutique criminal defense and civil rights firm with offices in New York City and on Long Island, today announced that after months of investigation and interviews, attorneys have filed a Claim with the New York State Court of Claims on behalf of 26 prisoners of Sing Sing Correctional Facility in Ossining, New York.
As reported in The New York Times, during the period of November 7-10, 2022, prison guards and members of the Correctional Emergency Response Team executed gang assaults that involved forcing dozens of prisoners to strip down to their underwear, after which they were beaten mercilessly with their hands, feet and/or weapons.
The Claim was filed on January 31, 2023 by Alexander Klein, Danielle Muscatello, Martin H. Tankleff and Victoria Broderick, Esqs., of Barket Epstein Kearon Aldea & LoTurco, LLP, and includes detailed notarized statements from each prisoner about his particular experience.
“What happens inside our prisons matters. The majority of incarcerated individuals, after paying their debt, are one day released. If we care about lowering recidivism rates, and increasing the chances of successful reentry, we also have to care about rehabilitation. Beating prisoners, humiliating them, denying them medical care, and degrading them creates anger and hopelessness both for those incarcerated and for their loved ones, who feel equally powerless. It worsens mental health problems, and it perpetuates violence and mistrust,” Ms. Muscatello, attorney with Barket Epstein Kearon Aldea & LoTurco, LLP, said.
Ms. Muscatello continued, “Thankfully, due to the widespread use of smartphones and body-worn cameras, we are seeing more and more police officers being held publicly accountable for abuses of power and excessive uses of force. But what goes on inside our prisons remains largely invisible and insulated from public scrutiny, as so many of our sentenced men and women are forgotten. This has to change. Here, we have a number of state-employed correction officers who reported to work, put on tactical gear, beat dozens of defenseless men, who were locked in their cells, wearing only their underwear, and then created false misbehavior reports to justify their excessive uses of force. It’s criminal. We have to do better. And it starts with visibility and accountability.”
Mr. Tankleff, Special Counsel to the firm, Adjunct Professor at Georgetown Law and himself an exoneree, said, “The abuse at the hand of correctional officers is not uncommon, as it is something I witnessed during my 17+ years of wrongful imprisonment. However, the magnitude of the brutality and numbers should offend and shock people. When I asked one of my clients what made this cell search different, he said, ‘I believed they were going to kill me.’ I stand with our clients as someone who understands and feels their pain.”
Mr. Klein, Partner at the firm, said, “The fact is, our laws don’t generally protect prisoners because they lack political power. So, we as civil rights lawyers achieve change for them the only way we can: one case at a time.”
Bruce Barket said, "This was nothing short of a planned attack on helpless inmates by a team of guards. The most troubling aspect is that it was done with knowledge and approval of the highest-ranking personnel in the prison. Those involved with the assaults and those who knew of this attack and approved of it must be held accountable. We cannot allow prisons to be run like a bad version of ‘Escape from New York,’ where the rule of law doesn’t apply.”
Barket Epstein Kearon Aldea & LoTurco, LLP is recognized nationally as a leader in criminal defense, personal injury law, appellate, commercial litigation and civil rights issues. With more than 200 years of experience and a team of former prosecutors, public defenders, exonerees and judges, BEKAL is uniquely capable of representing clients in an array of complex legal matters. The firm has offices in Manhattan, Garden City and Huntington, New York. Follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter @barketepstein.