DANNEMORA, N.Y. — Inmates who have served time at the Clinton Correctional Facility here tell of being taken aside by a sergeant soon after they arrive and given a warning: Cross the guards, and bad things can happen.
And they do. Inmates describe being ambushed by guards and beaten, taunted with racial slurs, and kept out of sight, in solitary confinement, until the injuries inflicted on them have healed enough to avoid arousing suspicion.
One story in particular has been passed along over the last few years as a kind of parable of brutality and injustice on the cellblocks. Leonard Strickland was a prisoner with schizophrenia who got into an argument with guards, and ended up dead.
In the inmates’ telling, the guards got away with murder, ganging up on Mr. Strickland and beating him so viciously that he could barely move. The guards deny this, saying they acted only in self-defense and did what was necessary to subdue an out-of-control prisoner.
But what came next is indisputable. In a security video obtained by The New York Times, Mr. Strickland is seen in handcuffs, barely conscious and being dragged along the floor by officers, while a prison nurse standing close by does nothing. Even as he lies face down on the floor, near death, guards can be heard shouting, “Stop resisting.”
By the time an ambulance arrived, medical records described Mr. Strickland’s body as cold to the touch and covered in cuts and bruises, with blood flowing from his ears.
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