At Pennsylvania jail, guards staged inmate fights for food

Posted Oct 7, 2013 by Yukio Strachan
Three Pennsylvania prison guards stand accused of running what one of them called the “Retard Olympics" — forcing inmates to fight each other in exchange for food, police said.
Wire surrounding a prison
Wire surrounding a prison
Pennsylvania State Trooper Robert Hicks told CNN that York County Prison correctional officers David Whitcomb, 28, Mark Haynes, 26 and Daniel Graff, 37, were each charged with one count of official oppression and harassment on Friday after a state police investigation. Police allege the incidents happened between Jan. 30 and July 1.
The investigation began after video surveillance showed officers Haynes and Whitcomb grabbing an inmate by his back and neck during an unrelated investigation, according to CBS Philadelphia. A prison captain then asked the inmate involved to provide investigators with a written statement about the incident.
That inmate, David Wright, 27, of Red Lion, wrote that officers Whitcomb, Haynes and Graff had arranged for him to fight another inmate, James Hicks, 27, for special privileges, namely extra food from the lounge and coffee, Central Pennsylvania's FOX43 reported.
The fight took place in a closet in the south block. The officers instructed the inmates on the rules: no punching in the face, and the winner would be the inmate who got the other to tap out, or submit. Wright won the fight, and as punishment for losing, Hicks was not allowed to work in the hallway, FOX43 writes.
Like Wright, Hicks also was given food in exchange for letting the officers punch and choke him, police said. Additionally, according to CNN, Hicks told investigators that the three officers challenged him to perform tasks such as drinking a gallon of milk in an hour, eating a spoonful of cinnamon, snorting a line of spicy vegetable Ramen noodle powder and drinking water with pepper foam in it. James Hicks wrote that the correctional officers called their challenges the "Retard Olympics." He said that the acts were consensual and that he was rewarded with food, CNN said.
Despite the professed consent of the participating inmates, the officers were still charged after an investigation that found "sufficient evidence" of their misconduct," Trooper Hicks told CNN.
"Even though it was consensual, correctional officers were still using the power of their position. They controlled the distribution of the food and the coffee, and they were using them to entice the inmates to engage in these activities," Trooper Hicks said.
All three correctional officers have been placed on unpaid administrative leave, York Dispatch said.
Graff, one of the accused officers, called the allegations a "get-rich-quick scheme," saying that Wright and the other inmate involved can't be trusted.
"They've been telling other inmates that they're going to sue the York County Prison for millions of dollars," Graff told the York Daily Record.
Whitcomb, another accused officer, told the Daily Record, "This is crazy."
He called the allegations "complete fabrications."
"I did not participate in any of it, and I did not witness any of this," Whitcomb told the Daily Record. "There is no physical evidence, no medical records. They didn't file any complaints when it was supposed to have happened. This is all on the word of an inmate. It blows my mind."