BEATINGS AT SCI GRATERFORD
by Julian Heicklen
The State Correctional Institution (SCI) at Graterford has long been known
to be a violent institution. The violence has been perpetrated both by
guards and inmates. The situation in the mid-1980s is described in vivid
detail in the book "Life without Parole" by inmate Victor Hassine AM?4737.
Mr. Hassine was an inmate at SCI Graterford assigned in 1884 to the "Meat
Wagon Crew." "When summoned we would rush to the scene of a medical emergency,
a staff nurse in the lead, one inmate pushing a gurney, another carrying
an emergency medical kit, and a third bearing oxygen or medical equipment.
Two or three times a week, we could be seen rushing through the many long
concrete corridors in response to an emergency call. Often we arrived only
in time to remove a dead body or the unconscious victim of an assault.
By 1985, the body count was so high that we stopped running to answer our
calls. Regrettably, the helpless victimization of our fellow inmates and
our own frustration had too long conspired to render us indifferent to
Mr. Hassine describes the hatred for and terror inflicted on white guards
by an elderly black inmate "Old Man Simpson." "But Old Man Simpson's acts
of violence were mild compared to such random acts of savagery of those
of the young inmates who swept through the crowded main corridor and threw
concentrated cleaning acid into men's faces, or the prison gang who stormed
a cell block and slashed inmates' necks and faces with razor blades."
Some acts of violence in the mid-1990s are described in the links below:
Michael Forrest (Posted June 3, 1998;
last updated September 30, 2001)
Floyd Prince (Posted June 3, 1998)