This page includes information about a case that involves physical and psychological violence inflicted on incarcerated people by correctional officers. The details of this case may be disturbing or distressing to the reader.
On Friday, December 17, 2021, Isaac Montague and William Davis filed a complaint in the federal District Court of Delaware against officers at the Delaware Department of Correction’s (DOC) Sussex Correctional Institution (SCI) facility.
The lawsuit outlines two separate — but equally egregious — attacks on people living at SCI by DOC employees, as well as the lack of action taken by leadership at SCI. It states that the attacks are violations of the plaintiffs’ right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment, a protection that is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.
According to the lawsuit, in September 2021, several SCI officers brutally attacked Isaac Montague, the first plaintiff in the complaint, completely unprovoked. Three officers led the attack, while other officers watched — and even videotaped — the attack. The victim was placed in solitary confinement without adequate medical care for three weeks after the incident.
A separate attack occurred the following month, according to William Davis, the second plaintiff in the complaint. Davis was held at SCI despite the fact that his release from the facility had been Court-ordered. He states that an SCI officer, the same one who initiated the attack a month prior, began beating him after Davis unknowingly answered a question incorrectly.
Since December 2021, the ACLU of Delaware and Whiteford Taylor Preston, LLC (WTP) have filed two amended complaints, and the list of plaintiffs who have come forward to officially declare allegations of abuse at SCI has grown from 2 to 29. The list of plaintiffs has grown from 7 to 43, including 40 correctional officers.
The tens of allegations of physical and psychological violence illustrate that abuse at SCI is not an isolated incident contained to one "bad apple," but a pattern and practice of abuse and human rights violations. Abuse at SCI is a systemic problem.
If you have experienced abuse at Sussex Correctional Institution and would like to speak with ACLU-DE's legal team, please submit your information through our legal intake form.
This litigation is ongoing, and significant updates will continue to be released to the media and the public as they happen. To read the latest updates and amended filings for this case, scroll down to our "Case Updates" section.