Thursday, November 13, 2008

County Warden sued in Federal Court for inmate abuse

by Christiaan Hart-Nibbrig

In a potentially explosive lawsuit, a Lancaster County man has sued county prison warden, Vincent Guarini, and three prison corrections officers for seriously beating him while he was an inmate at the Lancaster County Prison.

The suit alleges that the plaintiff, Paul Barbacano, in jail because of a DUI probation violation, had his Constitutional rights violated when he was allegedly taken from his cell and beaten by three on-duty corrections officers. According to the complaint, the prison, under Mr. Guarini, "has implemented policies and acquiesced to a culture of violence in its prison that led to the brutal beating of Plaintiff."

The case is reminiscent of a 2006 case of Jon Eichelman, a painter who suffered a lacerated liver, broken ribs, and a fractured eye socket while incarcerated at the prison. In that case, the guards were alleged to have allowed other inmates to beat Eichelman. The County made a half million dollar settlement with Mr. Eichelman.

The current case has a profound impact on the community, according to the plaintiff's attorney.

"This is very important for the public to know about," said Leonard G. Brown, Esq., of Clymer & Musser. "They should know that this is happening in Lancaster County. And they should demand accountability and transparency. This isn't about a paycheck for Mr. Barbacano; it's about changing the system, so that we treat prisoners humanely, not like animals People come into jail because of a petty crime, and they leave as real criminals because of how they are treated."

Attempts were made to contact Lancaster Prison Warden, Vincent Guarini, and Lancaster County Solicitor, Donald LeFever, but both were unavailable for comment at press time. will continue to follow and report this story as it develops.