Fishkill inmate death ruled suicide by state police
The death of an inmate at Fishkill Correctional Facility last year has now been ruled a suicide, despite his family’s claims that there is evidence he was killed.
Family say 37-year-old Joseph Clarke was looking forward to getting out of prison and going home to his four children in the city of Newburgh in a few months when he died at Fishkill Correctional Facility last April.
“A guy looking forward to his freedom, he wouldn’t kill himself,” said Mohagany Small.
Small was five months' pregnant with Clarke’s now 9-year-old daughter when he was incarcerated on a weapons charge.
Clarke was finishing a 12-year sentence when he died.
Both his mother and Small say Clarke seemed nervous the last time they saw him.
Clarke’s mother, Sandra Murphy, told News 12 in 2022 that she saw bloody gashes on her son’s head two days before his death and that he told her he was worried about the corrections officers.
“I was like, 'What’s going on,' and he was like, ‘Ma. Ma. They going to kill me,’” said Murphy.
State police told News 12 on Wednesday that they ended their investigation into Clarke’s death in October, six months after he died, and say all the evidence pointed to suicide.
Fishkill Correctional Facility has a history of violence against inmates involving corrections officers.
Court documents obtained by News 12 show the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision was served with two wrongful death lawsuits in 2015 for two inmate deaths and paid millions of dollars in 2019 to settle claims from two dozen prisoners allegedly beaten by guards.
As for Clarke’s death, his family is frustrated and still dealing with their grief.
“Now, my daughter has to grow up without a father. She’s already lost him once, and now it’s for good,” said Small.
DOCCS released a statement to News 12 about Clarke’s death saying,” The Department extends is sincerest condolences to Mr. Clarke's family. The death of any incarcerated individual is always taken seriously by the Department and deaths, unless the individual dies from natural causes, are thoroughly investigated.”