Two prisoner have been released. Federal lawsuits filedVirginia Department of Corrections claims that guards at Sussex 1 State Prison (and Red Onion State Prison) used dogs unmuzzled to maul and attack the inmates. Curtis Garrett (prisoner) and Corey Johnson (prisoner) claim that they were severely injured in these incidents.
This is a problem that is much more serious. A police dog can be hurt while on duty, and the victim is then charged with assaulting an officer. But if a police dog mauls someone, it is generally treated as the victim’s fault—even when it clearly isn’t.
First, Curtis Garrett claims that he returned to Sussex 1 on December 25, 2020 after having an argument with another prisoner. In a matter of minutes, Garrett was greeted by two Patrol Canine Unit officers who brought their dogs. Garrett, who was about to be placed in solitary confinement after he turned his head, put his hands behind him. The officers then unleashed his dogs and told him to attack them. The suit states that Garrett was attacked by the canines and two officers who punched and kicked him repeatedly. Garrett was required to have dozens more stitches done and sustained permanent nerve damage in the arm and leg.
It Another incidentThis incident took place at Red Onion State Prison. Corey Johnson also got into an altercation and was taken to the hospital. Johnson fell to the ground after guards shot several tear gas canisters at his face. The suit claims that instead of handcuffing the plaintiff, his guards shouted for the dogs to attack. Plaintiff claims that Mr. Johnson suffered deep, clean injuries, which were not like the “equal, surface-level or zigzagging” wounds that a dog might inflict on someone who refuses to stop an altercation. This was because Johnson had kept his back flat on the ground throughout the attack.
The Washington Post ReportsVirginia prison inmates have filed “numerous complaints” against the state, however, because they represented themselves, no action was taken by the state to stop the use of dogs for attacking prisoners. The suits were brought by A-list Washington companies and the Pressure Group Rights Behind Bars.
Rights Behind Bars spokesperson argues that a Statement that the practice of using police dogs to attack defenseless prisoners is “widespread” and is “not only barbaric—an abject act of dehumanization—but illegal and cannot be tolerated in a just society.” Virginia is not the first state to use dogs against prison inhumanely. Interfaith Action for Human Rights in Virginia claims to have heard from “Virginia is home to many prisoners“‘, who were brutalized by unprovoked dogs and left with severe injuries. Most of these incidents happened after prisoners lay down on the ground, and they had given up fighting or resisting. The evidence is overwhelmingBlack men are more likely to be bitten by police dogs than white people.
It is a crime to use dogs against compliant, unarmed prisoners. Police dogs should be considered officers if they are used against people not posing a threat.