Whistleblowers allege abuse by corrections officers at Fishkill, other state prisons

News 12 is exposing explosive new allegations of abuse behind bars at prisons statewide – including Fishkill Correctional Facility, where several inmate deaths have resulted in lawsuits against the state. 
Four whistleblowers are coming forward with similar allegations after the April 2022 death of Fishkill inmate Joseph Clarke. 
One of them is former prison inmate Antoine Jackson, who served time at Fishkill and other state correctional facilities until 2011. 
“I’ve watched guards kill inmates, stab them and throw them off top tiers,” said Jackson. “I was hurt and beat several times. They can hide anything. It’s very easy to doctor reports.” 
Jackson reached out to News 12 after we first reported on Clarke – whose death is being investigated as a suicide, despite his mother’s claims that officers were trying to kill him.  
So did Ingrid Zavata, from Newburgh, who says her boyfriend was beaten and had his hand broken by officers at Sing-Sing during one incident last October. 
“They taunt him,” said Zavata. “He told me they said there’s no cameras back here so it’s our word against yours and who is going to believe a criminal.” 
Debbie Camacho, from Slate Hill, has similar allegations and says her husband was allegedly assaulted and left unconscious in solitary confinement in April by corrections officers during intake at Dannamora.  

“They escorted him somewhere where there’s no cameras and beat the living life out of my husband,” said Camacho. 
Representatives for the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision tell News 12 they’re aware of the women’s claims and that the incidents are under investigation. 
They say Jackson filed a complaint for harassment against an officer in 2003 but are unaware of any of the other incidents he alleged. 
Jackson says inmates are afraid to report abuse out of fear of retaliation. 
The grievance process is very tricky because once you file a grievance on an officer you open up a can of worms,” said Jackson. “They can transfer you anywhere at any given time. You’re unable to make phone calls. You don’t get visits. They stop your mail. They control your living in there. They control everything about you in that prison.” 
Paul Harrington is a former Fishkill corrections officer who retired in 2018 after 20 years at the prison. 
“There’s been a number of occasions where I was told to change my paperwork because it didn’t really set the tone with the other reports,” said Harrington. “And that’s from the watch commander down.” 
Harrington sat down with News 12 ahead of his tell-all book release this month about alleged workplace violence between officers, corruption and drug use at the prison in Dutchess County. 
“There’s a lot of loopholes. There’s a lot of areas where you could do things where it’s not even seen and most those are as even up until today, do not have security cameras,” said Harrington. 
News 12 uncovered an alleged connection between the ex-officer and Jackson during months of interviews for this story. 
“My last spot was Fishkill,” said Jackson. “It was absolutely horrible. Horrible. The worst perpetrator is Paul Harrington.” 
Harrington said he remembers Jackson but denies any personal involvement with the former inmate while on-duty. 
“I don’t know if he wants to use my book as a platform to get his word out,” said Harrington. “But I don’t recall anything at all with him, so I’m really surprised at that.” 
Harrington says he was one of several officers on-duty when Fishkill inmate Samuel Harrell died during disputed circumstances in 2015. 
That case was one of two wrongful death lawsuits in the same year that the state settled. 
Reports show DOCCS paid millions of dollars in 2019 to settle claims from prisoners beaten, including a reported $450,000 payout to one of 24 victims in 2015.  
DOCCS representatives haven’t commented on the lawsuits but say violence against inmates is not tolerated and allegations against their officers are taken seriously. 
A representative for NYSCOBA, the union representing state corrections officers, declined to comment on the allegations.