Identifying and Reporting Prison Abuse in Pennsylvania

Prison staff are trained to not only run the facility safely and efficiently, but also to respect the rights of the inmates. When a staff member’s actions cause an inmate to suffer physical or emotional harm, he or she must be held accountable.

Like other states in the U.S., Pennsylvania outlines its policies for identifying and reporting prison inmate abuse. The Department of Corrections (DOC) was established to protect inmates from being subject to abuse, injury, and corporal or unusual punishment. The DOC defines abuse in three ways:

  1. The use of excessive force on an inmate
  2. An unwarranted life-threatening act against an inmate
  3. An articulated verbal or written threat to inflict physical injury directed toward an inmate

These general definitions are meant to cover abuse in its many forms. No matter the act, is a civil rights violation and must be treated accordingly.

Sexual Misconduct

Staff sexual misconduct refers to any sexual behavior or act toward an inmate by a staff member, contractor or volunteer. These actions may include (but are not limited to) any of the following:

  • Sexual contact, requests, threats or attempts
  • Exhibitionism an/or voyeurism
  • Sexually harassing behavior such as verbal comments or gestures that are sexually suggestive
  • Demeaning references to gender, sexuality and/or an inmate’s body

The DOC has a zero-tolerance policy regarding sexual abuse and harassment of inmates. Anyone who engages in, knowingly condones, and/or fails to report instances of sexual harassment or sexual abuse of an inmate could be subject to disciplinary action and criminal prosecution.

Reporting Abuse

If you or a loved one was harmed by a staff member in prison, reporting the act immediately is critical. The longer you wait, the more difficult it is to uncover key evidence and details to investigate the situation. There are several ways to report the abuse of an inmate by a prison staff member, including:

  • Verbal or written report to any staff member
  • Submission of a grievance in accordance with the DOC’s “Inmate Grievance System”
  • Verbal or written report to the DOC Office of Special Investigations and Intelligence

Anyone who sees or knows of abuse by a facility staff member must report the acts right away. Doing so can not only protect the victim’s rights, but also help to ensure the same abuse does not happen again to someone else.

How Gay Chacker & Mittin Can Help

If you have been the victim of abuse or other civil rights violations as a prison inmate, you may have a right to seek compensation for the harm someone else caused. For decades, the attorneys at Gay Chacker & Mittin have successfully represented people involved in civil rights and criminal defense cases. Firm partner Ed Chacker has a long track record of ensuring equal justice and civil rights for everyone – regardless of race, background, orientation, or beliefs.

If you or a loved one was abused in prison, there is no time to waste. Our firm can investigate the situation, get answers, and get to work seeking justice and compensation for the harm done.