Rockview inmate claims cruel and unusual punishment

A Rockview inmate claims he was subjected to cruel and unusual punishment by being kept in a “dry room” for 10 days.

Briaheen Thomas makes the allegation in a suit filed this week in U.S. Middle District Court against four state Department of Corrections employees at the Centre County prison.

Thomas claims on May 31, 2015, while his wife was visiting with him, he was approached by a corrections officer who handcuffed him on suspicion he had ingested illegal contraband. He claims he was eating M&Ms purchased from a vending machine in the prison.

Thomas says he was placed in a “dry room,” given a loose fitting smock to wear and was told he was not permitted to have a sheet or blanket. The room was cold, reeked of urine and feces and the mattress was soiled, the suit claims.

Inmates in a “dry room” do not have access to a commode with running water, so their feces can be examined for contraband.

Thomas claims he was handcuffed to the metal bed frame by his right arm, which caused him pain because of nerve damage from a gunshot wound. A light was on continuously affecting his ability to sleep, he says.

Thomas says he was forced to drink a liquid-based laxative to induce him to defecate in a pan and was not allowed to bathe, brush his teeth or wash his face or hands.

By June 1, 2015, he claims he had more than 10 bowel movements and no contraband was discovered. An X-ray taken the same day did not reveal any contraband in his body, the suit states.

Instead of being released then, he said he was required to remain in the “dry room” for eight more days.

When he was released, he claims his bowel movements and stomach were in an abnormal state for several weeks because of being forced to drink the laxative.

His initial grievance about his treatment was denied, the complaint states. In response to an appeal, Thomas claims facility manager identified only as “X” told him he should have been released sooner because the X-ray did not reveal any obstruction and there was nothing in his bowel movements.

Thomas claims he was denied “basic human needs, such as food, clothing, sanitation, medical care and personal safety.”

The suit, which seeks unspecified damages, listed incomplete names for the defendants.