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NYC Claims Prisoners Shoot Themselves to File Suit

New York City commissioners claim that for the last several years prisoners have paid jail guards to smuggle guns in to them, whereupon they shoot themselves and then sue the city for failing to protect them. A city official claims "There are at least five lawsuits presently pending against the city involving incidents where we have evidence that the wound was either self-inflicted, or inflicted at the direction of the injured inmate. An inmate would pay a corrections officer to bring in a gun to shoot himself so that he could bring a lawsuit or get some favor from jail authorities, such as reduced bail or improved jail accommodations."

On January 2, 1993, a gun smuggled into a jail's maximum security section accidentally discharged and wounded a jail guard. A prisoner is suspected in that shooting. Another jail guard has been arrested and charged with smuggling the gun in. City officials claim guards have been paid between $1,100 and $7,500 to smuggle in guns. Since 1987, 16 handguns have been found in city jails.

A city official states that investigations have shown a pattern to the shootings: in each case wounded prisoners could not identify their assailants, even when the shootings took place in well lit areas of maximum security prisons and each prisoner suffered only a grazing wound on a fleshy part of the body.

To date none of the suits have come to trial. One suit seeks $8.5 million in damages.

-Seattle Times, Jan. 21, 1993

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