NJ Prison Officer Admits Looking Other Way While Inmates Were Beaten, Brutalized

𝗨𝗣𝗗𝗔𝗧𝗘: Nine months after a former corrections officer at a New Jersey prison was sentenced to 2½ years behind bars for admitting that he brutalized inmates in what one victim called a “fight club," a second officer cut his own deal with federal prosecutors.

Bayside State Prison

Bayside State Prison

Photo Credit: Tracey D. Syphax

Joshua Hand, 34, of Millville, admitted in federal court in Camden on Monday, Feb. 26, that he stood by while two prisoners were being assaulted by fellow inmates at Bayside State Prison in Leesburg, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced.

Hand violated both inmates' civil rights by not stopping their assailants or reporting the incidents to his superiors, Sellinger said.

Hand was in the officers' kitchen quarters of the medium-security men’s prison when the first victim was summoned there, the U.S. attorney said.

The exit door was blocked and several inmates set upon him, Sellinger said.

"Hand watched and did not attempt to intervene when multiple inmates pinned and restrained the victim on the floor while other inmates delivered multiple punches and other blows to the victim’s torso, arms, and legs," he said.

"Hand did not report this assault to his supervisors or medical personnel despite knowing that he was required to do so," Sellinger said.

A second victim was in the officers’ quarters at the prison that same day when an officer beat him with a broomstick "without provocation" in front of Hand, the U.S. attorney said.

"Hand remained within arm’s reach of the assault and had a reasonable opportunity to intervene but did not attempt to do so," Sellinger said. "Once again, Hand did not report this assault to his supervisors or medical personnel."

Hand took a deal from the government rather than face the potential consequences should he be convicted at a jury trial. He pleaded guilty to depriving both inmates of their right not to be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment.

U.S. District Judge Karen M. Williams accepted the plea and scheduled sentencing for July 2.

Hand will have to serve out the ultimate sentence because there's no parole in the federal prison system.

Sellinger credited special agents of the FBI Atlantic City Resident Agency with the investigation leading to the plea, secured by Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas S. Kearney of the Special Prosecutions Division in Newark. He also thanked the New Jersey Department of Corrections for its assistance.

Fellow former corrections officer John Makos of Millville took a guilty plea himself and was sentenced late last May.

John Makos, 42, of Millville, took advantage of areas in the kitchen at Bayside out of the view of surveillance cameras where inmates during and after their work shifts were beaten by him, colleagues and fellow prisoners, federal authorities said.

SEE: 'FIGHT CLUB': NJ Prison Officer Who Brutalized Inmates Sentenced To 2½ Years In Federal Prison

“Corrections officers are responsible for protecting the civil rights of the people in their custody,” Sellinger said. “Incarcerated persons may have broken the law, but equal treatment is one of our country’s founding principles, and civil rights do not cease to exist at a prison’s gates.”

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