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Tuesday, May 28, 2024 | Back issues
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Tortures Alleged in Pennsylvania Prison

HARRISBURG, Pa. (CN) - Pennsylvania prison guards forced an inmate into a "Retard Olympics," a "humiliating, painful and physically harmful" ordeal that included being choked to unconsciousness for guards' amusement, the man claims in court.

James William Hicks Jr. sued the York County, its Department of Corrections, and jailers Daniel H. Graff, David M. Whitcomb, Mark A. Haynes and Adam S. Marcini on Sept. 26 in Federal Court.

Hicks claims he was forced to submit to the abuse, "hoping that his participation would satisfy the individual defendants, and dissuade them from devising more deviant and violent forms of 'amusement.'"

In return for his coerced participation in the Retard Olympics, Hicks says he was given trivial favors such as extra coffee and "lounge food" taken from the prison staff cafeteria.

Hicks claims the officers targeted inmates with physical, mental and emotional disabilities. Hicks, who claims he suffers from bipolar disorder and attention deficit disorder, says he "became the target of increased abuse" from his jailers.

He claims that jail guards staged the "Retard Olympics" on several occasions at the York County Prison from 2008 through 2013.

He claims that he and other inmates were subjected to "events" that included:

being choked to the point of unconsciousness before pressure was released;

being punched in the arms and legs until their limbs were numb;

being punched repeatedly in the legs with the goal of inflicting a "dead leg," which had no sensation and prevented walking;

being punched in the shoulders to see if prisoners could take the blow without falling;

having inmates wrestle each other until an officer decided there was a winner;

forced consumption of food to make prisoners sick and vomit, including drinking a gallon of milk in one hour, eating an entire spoonful of cinnamon, snorting spicy ramen noodle flavoring powder, snorting crushed hard candy, eating entire pieces of fruit, skin and all, drinking a bottle of water containing pepper spray foam from prison security supplies, and drinking a concoction known as "Mystery Soup" containing olives that had been left unrefrigerated for several weeks, mixed with Windex or similar cleaning supplies.

Hicks claims that in one "event" a defendant officer, "a powerfully built former United States Marine," would wrestle an inmate whom he would occasionally choke to the edge of consciousness.

Hicks claims that after drinking a mystery soup concoction in 2009, he "overheard Officer [Adam S.] Marcini ask Officer Druck what they should do if Mr. Hicks were to die."

Hicks says he feared retaliation if he declined to participate in the events, in which he was required to participate until it was made public in 2013.

He seeks damages for cruel and unusual punishment, equal protection violations, negligence and tortious infliction of emotional distress.

He is represented by Richard Maurer, with Gambone Law Offices in Philadelphia.

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