Visitor Question

Incarcerated brother getting beat up daily. What can I do?

Submitted By: Randolph (Essex, Maryland)

My brother is in prison and is being brutally beaten by guards and inmates. I just received a letter from him stating this has been going on for a while, which is why we haven’t heard from him in a long time.

From what he wrote, they starve him, beat him, and keep him isolated in a cell as if he’s some type of terrorist. They just fractured his jaw, and he’s in pain.

A nice correctional lady happened to see his face and bruises and proceeded to get him a pen and paper to write to us, letting us know why he’s been unable to contact us via mail and phone.

He was beaten at another prison about 2yrs ago where he sued them and won, and now is waiting for collection. His severe current daily beatings could be retribution from that.

How can I help him in this matter? I have his letters right here with me. Would a lawyer represent us in this case? Please, any help would be much appreciated.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Randolph,

If your brother is suffering such atrocities at the hands of prison guards, there are certainly some things you can do for him.

Your first priority will be getting the mistreatment to stop. Given the nature of the issues involved and the legal hurdles you may face in getting help for your brother, we strongly recommend that you contact an experienced attorney who has handled prisoner rights cases to discuss the situation and your options.

Additionally, the advocacy group Human Rights Watch has a website that lists various Maryland prison resources, including lawyer referral services that can help you find an attorney.

Mayland Inmates Grievance Office

The Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services has an Inmate Grievance Office that would be an excellent place to contact to ask questions or seek advice. Through that office you should be able to find out the process for filing a grievance on behalf of your brother.

The inmate grievance office phone number is 410-585-3840 and their email is igo@dpscs.state.md.us.

Federal Laws Protecting Inmates

The misconduct your brother says he is enduring likely gives rise to a claim for a federal civil rights violation.

The applicable federal statute provides as follows:

“Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State . . . subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law . . . .”

Commonly referred to as “1983 claims,” this law allows any citizen of the United States who has been deprived of his constitutional rights by someone acting on behalf of the government – including being treated improperly while in prison — to bring a civil lawsuit in federal district court.

Be aware, however, that your brother would have to complete the grievance process with the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services before being able to bring a “1983 claim.”

The Prison Litigation Reform Act, passed by Congress in 1985, states that:

“No action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions [. . .] by a prisoner confined in any jail, prison, or other correctional facility until such administrative remedies as are available are exhausted.”

An attorney can advise you on just what “administrative remedies” your brother must first pursue before he can file a lawsuit.

Your brother’s letter indicates he is facing a very difficult situation, and I encourage you to contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options and how you can help.

Learn more here: Government Injury Claims

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney.

Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call 888-972-0892.

We wish you the best with your claim,

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