Georgia prisoners file lawsuit claiming widespread beatings

ATLANTA - A group of prisoners filed a class-action lawsuit Tuesday contending that Georgia corrections officers have systematically beaten restrained inmates in prisons throughout the state, leaving two dead and dozens of others injured.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Valdosta, names 25 guards and other corrections officials as culprits in routine beatings and torture of restrained inmates. It also claims they subsequently covered up the abuses by inflicting even more beatings on prisoners who file complaints.

The complaint, filed by seven Valdosta State Prison inmates, contends that members of the prison's response team kicked them with combat boots, choked them with night sticks and donned black leather 'beating gloves' to carry out the attacks between October 2005 and August 2007.

The lawsuit also mentions the cases of more than 40 inmates in other Georgia prisons who claim, among other abuses, that guards strapped inmates to iron beds and left them without food or water for as long as two days and banned beating victims from seeing family members or being photographed. Most of the incidents allegedly took place between 2003 and 2005.

Paul Czachowski, a spokesman for the state's corrections system, said there is a 'pending investigation' into the Valdosta State Prison.

He declined further comment until he saw the lawsuit.

The beatings have become a 'very ingrained brutal practice that is covered up by the guards, supervisors, wardens and medical personnel,' said McNeill Stokes, an Atlanta defense attorney who filed the lawsuit.