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$74,000 Awarded to Slashed New York Prisoner

In July 2000, New York court of claims judge Ferris Lebous awarded $74,000 in damages to a prisoner slashed in an attack by another prisoner. On February 19, 1991, Billy Blake was in the segregation unit of the Shawangunk Correctional Facility. When Blake went to the segregation units recreation yard his hands were handcuffed behind his back and prisoner Stephen Gonzalez attacked him with a razor blade and slashed his face, scalp and ears for 20-30 seconds before guards separated the two. Blake required nearly 200 stitches to close his wounds and still has extensive scars.

Blake filed suit pro se claiming prison officials were negligent in failing to protect him from attack. The court of claims agreed, found the state liable and awarded Blake $35,000 for past pain and suffering; $25,000 for future suffering and $14,430 in interest.

Michelle Walls, the assistant attorney general who represented the state in the case said: "I hate to give this guy credit, but he really gave a harrowing account of what it was like to have his hands handcuffed behind his back and a guy attacking him with a razor. He thought he was dying and I didn't disbelieve him."

The state chose not to appeal and Blake received the judgment in November 2000. Blake is serving a 77 to life sentence for killing Onondaga county sheriff's deputy David Clark in 1987.

Source: Syracuse Online

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