HAZELTON, W.Va. (WBOY) — A group of senators is asking for a full investigation after a whistleblower claimed that staff at Federal Corrections Complex (FCC) Hazelton in Preston County are covering up misconduct, including releasing the wrong inmates, urinating on prisoner property and beating and assaulting inmates.

According to a press release from Senator Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV), the whistleblower accuses staff members of:

  • “Releasing the wrong incarcerated individual from the facility after failing to properly identify the correct individual scheduled for release.”
  • Attempting to cover up “a group of inmates escaping from the prison camp.”
  • “Punching an incarcerated individual on camera.”
  • “Repeatedly directing racial slurs against minorities.”
  • “Urinating on prisoner property.”
  • “Forcing incarcerated individuals to urinate and defecate on themselves as a condition of being released from restrictive custody.”
  • “Assaulting an incarcerated person, breaking the individual’s ribs.”
  • “Beating an incarcerated person in SHU (Special Housing Units) so severely that the individual had a seizure and was taken to the hospital two days later.”
  • “Shredding personal inmate mail and failing to provide inmates access to their mail.”

The “serious misconduct” as Capito’s release called it is alleged to have happened at both United States Penitentiary (USP) Hazelton and Federal Corrections Institution (FCI) Hazelton since 2013.

In a letter addressed to Attorney General Merrick Garland, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, and Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) Director Colette Peters, Sen. Capito, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) said in part, “If these allegations are true and accurate, they reflect a rampant culture of abuse and misconduct at FCC Hazelton.”

The three senators are asking for information regarding the investigation of abuse by no later than Oct. 3., including:

  • A list of abuse allegations at FCC Hazelton since 2013
  • A list of FCC Hazelton staff members who have been promoted or transferred while under investigation for inmate abuse
  • Copies of all documents regarding crimes and transfers of BOP staff who have been charged with a crime at FCC since 2013
  • Number of employees who continued to work with inmates while under investigation for inmate abuse

12 News reached out to the BOP and received the following response from its public affairs office:

The Federal Bureau of Prisons responds directly to Members of Congress and their staff.  Out of respect and deference to Members, we do not share our Congressional correspondence with the media. 

12 News has also reached out to the American Federation of Government Employees but has not received any official response and was not able to reach anyone at FCC Hazelton.

A copy of the senator’s full letter is available here.