- Six inmates at an Indiana prison are suing officials over conditions they say amount to “torture.”
- The ACLU of Indiana filed lawsuits on behalf of six inmates at the Miami Correctional Facility.
- The men allege they were held in complete darkness for weeks, leading some to be shocked by exposed wires.
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Six inmates at a maximum-security Indiana prison are suing the facility’s administrators, alleging that they were kept in total darkness for weeks at a time and shocked by live wires in conditions amounting to “torture.”
Six lawsuits, all but one of which were filed on July 1, were brought by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana on behalf of inmates at the Miami Correctional Facility in Bunker Hill. The lawsuits name Warden William Hyatte and Deputy Warden George Payne Jr. as defendants.
All six men were housed in isolation in cells that had no light, according to the lawsuits. Some of the inmates were cut with glass from broken windows, or shocked by hanging, exposed live wires while they tried to navigate in the dark, the ACLU attorneys wrote in the lawsuits.
The first ACLU lawsuit was filed in March on behalf of Jeremy Blanchard, who alleged he was placed in a restrictive housing cell from September 3, 2020 to October 5, 2020 where the only window was completely obstructed by a sheet of metal and the only light was broken.
“This left Mr. Blanchard in darkness except for the short period of time that he was let out for a shower every few days,” the suit says. “Defendants were aware of the conditions under which Mr. Blanchard suffered, yet allowed him to remain in near-total darkness for more than a month.”
The ACLU filed the other lawsuits on behalf of inmates William Anderson, Charles Lyons, Anthony Parish, Gerald Reed, and Jeffrey Wagner, who alleged they were kept in similar conditions.
Wagner said he was held in a dark cell from September 3, 2020 through November 3, 2020.
“Live electrical wires hung from the ceiling and on a number of occasions he received painful shocks as he tried to navigate in his dark cell,” the lawsuit alleges.
The suit alleges these conditions were a form of punishment, and that Wagner’s mental health deteriorated as a result. Wagner’s anxiety and depression worsened and he “suffered from auditory hallucinations urging him to harm himself,” according to the lawsuit.
“Placing a person in prolonged, isolated darkness for an extended period is a form of torture,” the ACLU wrote in the lawsuit.
A spokesperson for the Indiana Department of Correction declined to comment to Insider on the pending litigation.
She said the Indiana Attorney General’s office would represent and Department of Correction employee involved in the case. A spokesperson for the AG’s officer told Insider that it had not yet been served.
“We will review the allegations contained in the suit and make a determination about next steps in due course,” the spokesperson said.
The Miami Correctional Facility houses about 3,150 inmates, according to data from the Department of Correction.