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Three York County prison guards charged for 6-month-long incident with inmates

Updated: Friday, October 4 2013, 07:12 PM CDT
Posted by: Ashley Arnold (

Three corrections officers have been charged and placed on unpaid administrative leave after an internal investigation revealed the officers were engaged in mischievous acts with two inmates at the York County Prison.

State Police say the incidents took place from the end of January 2013 to the beginning of July in the south block of the prison.

David Whitcomb, 28, Mark Haynes, 26, and Daniel Graff, 37, are facing charges of official oppression.

Police say video surveillance showed Officer Haynes grab inmate, David Wright, 27, around his neck.

After being questioned by prison officials, Wright said that Officers Whitcomb, Haynes and Graff arranged for him to wrestle another inmate, James Hicks, 27.

Wright told officials the rules were no punches to the face, and whoever would get the other inmate to "tap out" first would get food and extra coffee.

Wright said he won, causing Hicks to "tap out" first.

As punishment, police say Hicks was not allowed to work in the hallways.

Wright also told officials that he wrestled Officer Graff  in a storage closet.

Wright said that Officer Whitcomb told him he would give him extra food if Whitcomb could punch him in the leg and give him a "dead leg."

Officer Whitcomb allegedly punched inmate Wright.

Then, Officer Haynes said he would give Wright extra food if he could take a punch to the arm without falling.

Wright says Haynes punched him, but he never got any payment in return.

Wright also says that he allowed Officer Graff to pepper foam him in the face in exchange for coffee, but was never given the coffee he was promised.

Inmate Hicks told prison officials that he was part of what they called "retard Olympics."

Hicks said he would do stupid things for extra food and coffee.

Police say this was all organized by Officers Whitcomb, Haynes and Graff.

Hicks also says he was dared to drink a gallon of milk in an hour, eat a spoonful of cinnamon, snort a line of spicy Ramen Noodle powder, snort a crushed-up candy bottle cap, drink a bottle of water with pepper foam in it and eat fruit with the peels still on them.

Hicks says in return, he would get extra food and coffee; and that eventually the challenges became physical.

Hicks said he would wrestle Officers Graff and Whitcomb, and that they would also punch him in the arms and legs until they went numb.

Then, Hicks says one time Officer Whitcomb chocked him out.

Police also say the three prison guards told Hicks to wrestle Wright in the storage closet while the officers watched.

Hicks told prison officials that it was all consensual.

In response to these incidents and the criminal charges, York County Prison released the following statement:

“Earlier this year, while conducting an unrelated investigation into pen/marker graffiti and other minor vandalism inside an area of the facility, prison administration learned of possible unprofessional conduct by three corrections officers. Management immediately began an internal investigation.

Based on evidence obtained during the internal investigation, the three officers were placed on unpaid administrative leave and the matter was turned over to the Pennsylvania State Police for further investigation and possible criminal charges. The York County Prison and its staff actively cooperated with the State Police investigation.

Each day, hundreds of corrections officers work diligently to maintain the security of the Prison and ensure the safety and well-being of inmates and fellow corrections officers. The actions alleged by Pennsylvania State Police in this case run counter to the professional behavior County and Prison management expect and require of all staff. Misconduct within any County agency is not tolerated.

Because this is an active criminal case and personnel matter, the Prison and County cannot provide any further comment. Requests for further information should be directed to Pennsylvania State Police.

The three officers remain on unpaid administrative leave.”

Three York County prison guards charged for 6-month-long incident with inmates

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