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 violence."

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)