Feds: N.J. CO orchestrated attacks on inmates in unobserved areas of prison

The attacks, which left multiple inmates injured, took place in the kitchen, where there were no surveillance cameras

By Brendan Rascius
Miami Herald

LEESBURG, N.J. — A corrections officer at a New Jersey prison conspired with others to assault inmates in unobserved areas of the facility over several months, officials said.

John Makos, 42, pleaded guilty to orchestrating attacks on inmates at Bayside State Prison in Leesburg, about 50 miles south of Philadelphia, according to a Nov. 18 news release from the U.S. Attorney for New Jersey.

An attorney for Makos could not immediately be reached for comment by McClatchy News on Nov. 21.

While working as a corrections officer in 2019, Makos and others, including at least one inmate, “agreed to physically assault the Victim-Inmates in a cruel, unusual, arbitrary, and capricious manner for actual, perceived, and fabricated violations of the Prison’s rules and customs,” according to court documents.

The attacks, which left multiple prisoners injured, took place in the kitchen, where there were no surveillance cameras, according to court documents.

On one occasion, a few weeks before Christmas in 2019, Makos watched idly as several inmates pinned another inmate to the floor and punched him over two dozen times. He never reported the assault to medical personnel or his supervisors, despite being obligated to do so.

Makos faces a maximum sentence of 10 years for conspiring to violate the civil rights of others and may also receive a six-figure fine, according to officials. His sentencing hearing is slated for March 23, 2023.

Makos is also named in an abuse lawsuit filed in state Superior Court in 2020 by former inmates, according to NJ.com.

Approximately one in five male inmates are physically assaulted during a six-month period, according to a 2010 study published in the Journal of Correctional Health Care. The study, which involved nearly 7,000 inmates, found that physical injury occurred in half of all assaults perpetrated by staff.

There were 1.2 million people incarcerated in state and federal prisons in the United States in 2020, the latest year with data available, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

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