Submitted by Brian Vickers
Reported by Liku Zelleke
A class action lawsuit that has been filed against hundreds of guards in the Illinois prison system serves to show the sexual and psychological abuse that is inflicted on prisoners — mostly Black men — by guards and wardens who think they will not be held accountable for their actions.
The suit was filed this week by Demetrius Ross on behalf of himself and also in support of other inmates in several prisons in Illinois. It describes the “shakedowns” that occurred in April at the Illinois River Correctional Facility in Canton, Illinois, with the aim of sexually humiliating inmates.
The suit depicts one example of torture in which inmates were searched in front of female officers, had their genitals touched and their buttocks spread and then, with the same hands, had their mouths opened. They would also be made to march from their housing units to the gym with their heads on the back of the inmate in front of them with one man’s genitals in direct contact with the buttocks of the one in front – a stunt the guards liked to call the “Nuts to Butts.”
Those that broke formation would be violently attacked by the guards, just like what happened to Ross, who had his head slammed down so hard his glasses fell from his face and were broken, causing him to suffer from dizziness and lightheadedness.
The suit goes on to claim the officers “shoved their batons in between each prisoner’s legs and jerked upwards, forcing the prisoner to straighten his legs while keeping his back bent over at a 90-degree angle onto the prisoner in front of him.”
The lawsuit is asking for damages in Ross’ and other inmates’ cases, as well as an injunction prohibiting guards from continuing the abuse, especially when performing searches.
Although the suit doesn’t specifically mention race, over 50% of inmates at Illinois River are Black, 24% are White and 20% are Hispanic. Meanwhile, when it comes to the guards, the prison had no Black or Hispanic officers whatsoever, as shown by a 2012 report.