SUSSEX — Civil rights suits have been filed by two men accusing the Virginia Department of Corrections of using canines on prisoners over allegedly being injured by prison security dogs at Sussex II State Prison.
The suits have been filed in the U.S. District Court in Richmond and Roanoke. The inmates are represented by Rights Behind Bars and the Washington office of Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP.
Former inmate Curtis J. Garrett, 29, alleges he was attacked by dogs at the prison in 2018 leading to permanent injuries and a mental breakdown that required psychiatric hospitalization. Corey E. Johnson, 51, an inmate at Red Onion State Prison, was alleged to have been mauled by a dog at the prison last May.
The plaintiffs name employees and officials of the Department of Corrections as defendants for violating Eighth Amendment protections against cruel and unusual punishment. They are seeking unspecified damages and a court-ordered end to policies in prisons that allow for the use of canines on prisoners.
Garrett's suit alleges that the officers entered his cell without warning and unleashed their canines who bit Mr. Garrett’s left arm and right leg while the two officers punched and kicked Garrett.
Garrett alleges that he suffered extensive nerve damage causing no sensation or control over his dominant left hand no longer being able to write or engage in activities involving opening or clenching his hand. He allegedly also has nerve damage and pain in his legs.
Johnson’s suit says his back and arm were struck with gas canisters fired from a nearby control booth while fighting another inmate. After he laid face down once the canine unit arrived, a prison dog allegedly mauled his right arm and dragged him several feet. The suit claims that other defendants stood idly by while the incident occured.
The suit alleges that Johnson’s injuries from the attack include nerve damage in his right arm.