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Man awarded $700K in Baltimore prison assault civil case

A man was awarded $700,000 in damages after a federal jury found several corrections officers and their supervisors liable for a 2013 attack inside a Baltimore inmate intake facility.

The jury awarded Kevin Younger, an inmate at the facility who claimed several guards beat him in his cell in retaliation for an assault on another corrections officer, $700,000 on Monday after a civil trial in which former corrections officers testified about a culture of violent retaliation inside one of the state’s correctional facilities.

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The lawsuit alleged that after word spread around to other corrections officers that one of their own had been badly assaulted, corrections officers Kwasi Ramsey, Jemiah Green and Richard Hanna beat Younger inside his cell in September 2013 as the three assaulted five prisoners in retaliation for an attack on another officer the day before.

Younger sued the three and prison supervisors, Tyrone Crowder and Neil Dupree, claiming they allowed the attack to occur.

A call for comment from the Maryland Attorney General’s Office, which represented the corrections officers in the case, was not immediately returned Monday night.

The three faced criminal charges in 2014 related to the attack. Hanna pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge and testified against Green and Ramsey, who were acquitted of most charges but convicted of second-degree assault and misconduct in office. They received suspended sentences and were placed on probation.

Hanna testified during the civil trial that he and other officers were part of a “goon squad” who were “problem solvers who worked outside the lines of duty.” He said he and other officers would drag inmates out of their beds to assault them as part of an “eye for an eye” code of retaliation at the facility.

Younger had previously been awarded $2.7 million by a Baltimore jury when he originally filed the lawsuit in city courts.

However, laws on government payouts in civil cases capped the amount at $200,000. Filing the suit in federal court gave Younger an opportunity to be awarded damages that exceed that cap.

In an email, Younger’s attorney, Allen Honick, wrote that “this case is a symptom of a much bigger problem.”

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“The [Office of the Attorney General] tried defending the indefensible,” Honick wrote. “Hopefully, Mr. Younger can now move on with his life and put this awful chapter behind him.”

While the allegation stems from 2013, Monday’s verdict comes as an increasing number of lawsuits and criminal charges allege the state’s corrections officers instituted a culture of violence in many of Baltimore’s jails and prisons over the course of years.

In December, 25 corrections officers with the Baltimore Central Regional Tactical Unit were indicted on 236 criminal counts as Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby accused them of running a “criminal enterprise” inside the city’s prison through use of excessive force, intimidation and evidence tampering.

A federal lawsuit also claims that the state’s prison system systematically fails to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and that prison guards made a one-legged man hop into and out of the shower with no support.

Honick is also representing the six former and current inmates in that lawsuit.

Baltimore Sun reporter Justin Fenton contributed to this article.

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