Troubling accusations against York County Prison Guards

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State Police are investigating three York County Prison corrections officers, accused of running a fight club and forcing inmates to participate in humiliating acts, deemed the “Retard Olympics.” The revelations came about during an internal investigation of criminal mischief occurring in the South Block of the prison. Investigators saw a Corrections Officer grab an inmate around the neck on surveillance video. That inmate, David Wright, 27, of Red Lion, was then asked to provide investigators with a written statement of what was going on in the South Block of the prison.

Wright reported three of the corrections officers on the block, David Whitcomb, Mark Haynes and Daniel Graff, arranged for Wright to wrestle another inmate for special privileges, namely food from the lounge and extra coffee. The fight, against inmate James Hicks, 27, of Dover, 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.

Wright was also forced to wrestle Officer Graff, 37, of York. Wright says Graff choked him out and Wright tapped out. Officer Whitcomb told Wright he would give him lounge food if he could punch him in the leg and give him a ‘dead leg.’ Wright allowed Whitcomb to punch him. Officer Haynes offered Wright lounge food if he could take a punch in the arm from Haynes without falling. Wright allowed Haynes to hit him, but never received the promised reward. Wright also accuses Graff of pepper spraying him in the face, with a promise of coffee for Wright. Wright says Graff sprayed him with pepper foam and then renegged on the coffee.

Hicks was also asked for a statement. He stated he was part of something in the South Block called the ‘Retard Olympics.’ He reported he would “do stupid stuff for food and coffee.” This activity was organized by Corrections Officers Haynes, Whitcomb and Graff. Hicks was challenged to drink a gallon of milk in an hour, eat a spoonful of cinnamon, snort a line of spicy vegetable Roman Noodle powder, snort crushed up bottle cap candies, drink a bottle of water with pepper foam in it and eat unpeeled fruits. When he performed one of these humiliating tasks, the guards would give him lounge food and coffee. Hicks then said the challenges became more physical. Officers Graff and Whitcomb would wrestle him or punch him in the legs and arms until they went numb. Hicks says Whitcomb choked him out one time. Hicks admits that he consented to the challenges and that the corrections officers ‘paid’ him with food or coffee. Hicks corroborated Wright’s story about the two of them fighting in the storage closet under the corrections officers watch.

York County Prison released the following statement:

“Earlier this year, while conducting an unrelated investigation into pen/marker graffiti and other minor vandalism inside an area of the facility, prison administration learned of possible unprofessional conduct by three corrections officers. Management immediately began an internal investigation.

Based on evidence obtained during the internal investigation, the three officers were placed on unpaid administrative leave and the matter was turned over to the Pennsylvania State Police for further investigation and possible criminal charges. The York County Prison and its staff actively cooperated with the State Police investigation.

Each day, hundreds of corrections officers work diligently to maintain the security of the Prison and ensure the safety and well-being of inmates and fellow corrections officers. The actions alleged by Pennsylvania State Police in this case run counter to the professional behavior County and Prison management expect and require of all staff. Misconduct within any County agency is not tolerated.

Because this is an active criminal case and personnel matter, the Prison and County cannot provide any further comment. Requests for further information should be directed to Pennsylvania State Police.

The three officers remain on unpaid administrative leave.”

12 comments

  • Pat

    I have written the media about this prison and how the conditions are also !!! No response rat droppings in food and worms coming up out of the drains and so on !!!
    place needs something done

      • Guest

        Sounds like your husband has unresolved anger issues and was taking them out on inmates because he felt powerless. USMC, you say? KNow lotta guys like him, good guys, but hurting. He'll most likely need counseling now. This will be good for him, face things. I know this is hard for you. Don't be scared. Be strong, lady. Brace for the truth, then help your man get the help he needs.

    • Pat

      if your husband was doing right then his name wouldnt be involved !!! Since he chose to be childish and even worse you can see your maturity that you sit here and bring up that they are mentally ill which is, I guess, your way of saying it doesnt matter cause there this way….and obviously your husbands playing such stupid games with children shows his maturity level to begin with !!! You want Liars look in the mirror i know this crap happens there and im sure at a lot of prisons !!! tell him to man up and tell the truth and take what he dealt !!

    • Just Sayin

      To the wife of officer. Should you even be on here making any kind of statements? I realize that you wanna defend your husband, but, I'm sure that your comments won't help his case at all. I personally believe that a lot of bad stuff goes on in prison and YES…….there really can be bad CO's, initiating it all. Aren't you gonna feel pretty stupid if the truth that comes to light is the fact that your husband was one of the bad guys? Good character speaks for itself. No need to defend it. He that protests too much, is usually guilty. I'm sure the job is very stressful but to mess with the inmates in this manner is totally wrong, especially if they may have a mental disorder (which, who knows if that's even true?). Inmates are in prison for a wrong-doing. Most are not animals………and they need not be treated as such. If my husband was even being accused of this, I'd shut my mouth and have my head down instead of name calling. Wives don't always know how their husbands act and what they are really like. If my husband treated another human being like that, I would not be defending him……I'd be ashamed of him. It almost sounds a little bit like you are just worried about you not having his paycheck. We all need money. Every woman on the planet should be able to take care of herself cuz her man might not always be there. I guess we will all find out in awhile who is guilty and who is not. If you can't even handle the accusations, how are you gonna handle it IF he is found guilty? I personally am angered by this whole situation. A CO is there to ensure that the prisoners are safe……..they are not there to hurt them. Just as your husband is human, so are the inmates who made mistakes that landed them in prison. If your man is guilty, he just may find out what it's like to be on the other side.

    • facts_in_york

      Your husband has a violent criminal history dating back to 93 when he was charged with felony assault charges! So it looks like your husband is also a 'repeat offending criminal' as you mentioned in your second sentence. Quit playing the victim with this. The real victims are the inmates that your husband used his authority to abuse with his violent tendencies.

  • only the truth

    I just commented on the good/ bad officers and Im a retired c.o… I just want to appologize for some of my mispellings. I hit the wronh letters on some words. But I believe I said what I needed to say and anyone who reads it can understand the words with the typos..

  • Toad

    Why has this video evidence not been made public? When springettsbury police officers were accused of beating someone up, the video was made public. Why can’t we see this evidence?

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