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.”

15 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

    • wife of officer

      This entire thing is bullshit!!! Two repeat offending criminals make up stories so they can sue York County and everyone immediately assumes it true! My husband is a USMC veteran with multiple good conduct awards and had NEVER been disciplined in the 5+ years at the prison and you believe a bunch of known liars and one is being held on escape charges??? Really?? I have been with my husband on MULTIPLE occasions where prior inmates have come up to us and told me have great of a C/O he is and to thank him for treating them like people. He hold the respect of a lot of former inmates and TWO mentally ill inmates will ruin it all? My life gets turned upside down over lies. 13 weeks of suspension without pay BEFORE charges are brought?? It took them 3 months to get 2 inmates accusations? This is all bullshit! And I know Wright is lies.. A kid smaller than my 13 yr old son “dropped” and tapped out my 180 lb infantry Marine? Sure. Bunch of damn liars.

        • 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.

  • cloud9coding

    Woman who’s life’s been turned upside down. You have no idea the people that came up to your husband most likely recive special treatment. Also have you never lied? Or broke the speed limit? If you want to judge someone based on abiding by the law then you my friend would fail. Also the first person without sin cast the first stone. How about you go spend time in that place and eat the food with mouse shit in it while you see the gaurds are eatting 10x better even tho there union contract that they wine about so much states they are to eat the same as me. Just because someone I’m assuming you know one of these gaurds so already you have a one sided view or hey maybe you friend / idk is lying to you. We’ll wait that can’t happen right? He’s a prison gaurd get real.

  • only the truth

    As a retired c.o. I have spent my career inside an institution with inmates. I do happen to believe this story as I have seen firsthand some of the abuses inflicted upon inmates. Im not saying that c.o.’s r all this way. Im saying I do know that some people who do this very hard job should not be inside a prison. Maybe as inmates themselves. Ive seen inmates hurt, given food I wouldnt feed to a wild animal. Etc. But with so many officers in 1 facility its hard to weed out all of thr assholes. I stand behind thr good one because I know what the job entails and the stresses etc. Im just saying basically that even though inmates have been put in prison for a reason there is no reason to abuse or feed them food that could poison or even bring their death. Officers are not placed in prisons to punish. Their job is simply this..Care, custody and conyrol of the inmaye population. That is corrections officer academy 101. If these 3 officers did what they are accused of then they are no better than some of the people who they are paid to care for. Like I said I’ve spent many years as an officer and Ive seen my share. One more thing I want to say is. The inmates who were alleged to have been made to do these things are said to have mental health issues.peoplr with low IQ’s usually do not lie whrn it comes to stuff like this. The reason being they really don’t have the mental capacity to lie and then tell the same story over accurately. They usually tell the truth because the really dont have the capacity to reapeat the same story over and over again without confusing. Im really hoping these accusations are not real. But Im swaying yowards that they are. To the woman who is going without her husbands pay. The PSP dont just run in and do these types of investigations without very good reason and alit of proof to begin with. So maybe you nred to doubt what your being told. I read there is videi of some of the incidents. How do u dispute that? I just had to write something about this. I mean no offense to the good hard working officers eho put their safety and lives on the line everytime the walk into their institution. But its the officers that takr their job as a joke that get the good ones hurt. God Bless the good officers and prayers tk their safety..

  • 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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