HARRISBURG — A federal trial targeting the U.S. Penitentiary at Lewisburg on allegations dating to 2004 begins Monday and raises claims that mirror a second lawsuit filed by prison advocates late last year.
In both cases, inmates claimed they were shackled for days at time. In the 2004 case, David Lee Womack, a convicted rapist, alleges he was placed in shackles for more than three weeks.
The key point of contention is whether the restraints are being used to protect staff or to punish inmates.
Womack, a 43-year-old Washington, D.C., man serving a life sentence for rape and abduction, alleges he was mistreated at the Lewisburg prison in December 2004 after refusing to comply with corrections officers and return to his flooded cell.
The suit filed against former Warden Joseph V. Smith and several officers claims Womack was placed in steel wrist and ankle cuffs bound to his waist while confined to a maximum security cell for 26 days and not monitored regularly. Documents filed by the prison attorneys allege that during the period he was in restraints, Womack repeatedly threatened staff, attacked a staff member and at one point broke out of a restraint.
For more on this story, see Friday's edition of The Daily Item.