National News

Protesters Rally Against Sexual Violence at Lackawanna County Prison

Posted October 16, 2017 3:10 p.m. EDT

— Protesters rallied in Scranton against sexual violence at the Lackawanna County Prison.

The Lackawanna County Prison has a rocky history that involves a variety of charges and accusations over the years against employees.

On Sunday, protesters stood outside to bring light to the sexual violence issues that have been linked to the prison.

"The Lackawanna County Prison needs to take responsibility for the transgressions it had perpetrated on these individuals."

The message was firm and clear from Montana Levinson during the rally.

Newswatch 16 reported in 2013 that prison guard Joseph Black was charged with sexually assaulting five female inmates between 2002 and 2011.

Now, in 2017, four women have filed suit accusing multiple guards of rape during their prison stays between 1998 and 2016. Those guards have been placed on paid administrative leave.

And just last month, investigators raided the prison. It's unclear what exactly they took.

"We're here to call attention to it and ask our fellow citizens to pay attention and put pressure on prison officials and politicians to investigate this and get to the bottom of what's going on in there," said Susan Poulson, protester.

And for some of the people at this protest, they came to show support for friends, who were previously inmates at the prison. Those inmates claim to have known about some of the past charges and accusations.

"I heard from a dear friend what happened. That kind of made me really angry. People here are supposed to be protected and although they might have done something wrong, that doesn't mean you retaliate and do something wrong back to them," said Ashley Truitt, protester.

Halfway through the rally, the protesters were confronted by a counter-protester, whose son works at the prison. Lauri Lavelle came to the defense of the correctional officers.

"Nobody puts the prisoners in that jail, except the prisoners. Those correctional officers are doing their job. They're doing their job every day, living at a risk every day to make our streets better," Lavelle said.

Other protesters feel as though the public isn't aware of some of the issues at the prison. They hope this rally brings attention to that.