Part 1: Former Prisoners Claim Physical, Verbal Abuse At SCI - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

Part 1: Former Prisoners Claim Physical, Verbal Abuse At SCI

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GEORGETOWN, Del. - Last month, 47 ABC first reported on Ronald Shoup, a Lewes man who was briefly held at Sussex Correctional Institution until he died from "multiple blunt force injuries".

That's all according to his death certificate.

Delaware State Police says the investigation continues into that case, but it's not the first time correctional officers action have been called into question.

Steve Bishop may only be 69.
     
But his voice trembles. His feet ache daily. A short walk to the kitchen takes minutes.

Bishop claims his health starting going downhill 10 years ago at Sussex Correctional Institution.

"I was a healthy 59-year-old, who came out crippled," said Bishop.

According to Bishop and court reports, he was arrested in 2005 for aggravated menacing and held at the pre-trial unit at SCI.

Bishop says he was taken off of an antidepressant Lexapro when he was arrested. Days later, court records state he began hallucinating from withdrawal.

He then attacked a guard stabbing him with a pen. That's when Bishop claims eight correctional officers attacked him. An incident report written by one of the correction officers says Bishop was combative as they tried to subdue him.

The stab wound itself, the correctional officer writes, was not serious.
     
"They were dragging me over to the showers, because, I guess I soiled myself," said Bishop. "They put it first on cold, then on as hot as it would go then on cold again and continued beating me.

"If you have a psychotic break in the hospital a couple of interns will grab you and they'll strap you to the gurney and give you medication, but at SCI they'll beat you to death."

Defense attorney Steve Hampton took Bishop's case to court in 2008.

Bishop settled with the Department of Corrections for an undisclosed amount of cash. Hampton says Bishop is not alone and currently has two other physical abuse cases pending at SCI, as well as representing Shoup's family.

"If the inmate is combative, it can result in a lot of trauma to the inmate," said Hampton.

Bishop remembers a conversation with a correctional officer during his stay at SCI.

"One night a guard came by, he looked up and he saw me on the toilet, he said, 'are you going to hang yourself?' and I said no. He said, 'why don't you, save us the trouble.' Will I ever forget it? No. Do I want to dwell on it? If it helps, I'll dwell on it."

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