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Guard Arrested for Running “Fight Club” in New Jersey Prison Kitchen

by Ashleigh Dye and Jayson Hawkins

A New Jersey prison guard was arrested on October 1, 2021, on charges he ran a “fight club” in the kitchen he supervised at Bayside State Prison, regularly beating and torturing prisoners who worked under him there.

“A badge is not a license to abuse the power it conveys or deny the rights of the people in one’s custody,” said FBI Special Agent George M. Crouch, Jr., who led the investigation.

The allegations against the guard, John Makos, 41, first came to light in a civil rights suit filed against him in 2020 by one of his alleged victims, prisoner Glen Davies. That suit was dismissed without prejudice on a motion by the plaintiff in March 2021 on the advice of his attorney, Michael Poreda, who said it was unlikely to survive screening under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1997e, unless he first filed and exhausted administrative grievances. Davies hadn’t done so for fear of retaliation from Makos’ fellow guards, he said. See: Davies v. Makos, USDC (D.N.J.), Case No. 1:20-cv-10447.

After that suit was filed in August 2020, the state Department of Corrections (DOC) Special Investigation Unit placed a hidden camera in the kitchen which captured some of what Davies suffered, including abuse called the “fence treatment.” That was when he was handcuffed to a length of fence outside the prison kitchen and his right wrist secured to a nearby door. Then when the door was opened by two other guards—identified in the suit as Hand and Lawson—and Davies’ arms were stretched wide, Makos would punch his body repeatedly.

Other prisoners say that Makos watched everything Davies did and would often make up incidents for which he could “punish” the prisoner. Then at the end of each kitchen shift when Makos said it was “time to collect,” he took Davies to a back room and punched him in the ribs for each alleged infraction.

Davies reportedly became Makos’ primary target after a wrestling match between the two resulted in an injury to Davies’ arm. The prisoner did not seek treatment, and another prisoner reported anonymously that Makos became “a bully that now has all this power.”

Davies’ lawsuit revealed he was transferred to East Jersey State Prison, where the bruises still on his body were photographed. In a media interview, he said he suffers psychological effects of the abuse he received from Makos.

“Pretty much the only time I feel safe is when I’m alone, locked in my cell with no one else there,” Davies said.

Other victims allegedly suffered another variation of abuse Makos called “riding the motorcycle.” That’s when he made the prisoners sit against a wall and kicked them in the chest.

For his ingenious brutality, Makos received an annual salary of $84,605 in 2020.

The charges against him carry a maximum of ten years in prison. His case remains open in federal district court for New Jersey, which granted his release on a $50,000 unsecured bond the day he was arrested. See: USA v. Makos, USDC (D.N.J.), Case No. 2:21-mj-13331.

Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig said her office expects to file additional charges in this case. 


Additional sources: Cherry Hill Courier-Post, NJ Advance Media

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