On September 23, Jayshawn Boyd, 22, was placed into a “designated gang unit” at the Essex County Correctional Facility in Newark, New Jersey. Within 10 minutes, he was beaten so badly that he was left in a coma for two months. He still cannot walk or eat solid food.
The men responsible for the attack have been charged with attempted murder. Some of those inmates were already facing murder charges. The entire incident was captured on video.
A Brutal Attack
The video reveals the brutality of the attack. Seven inmates pushed Boyd onto the cement floor. He was then punched, stomped, beaten with a broomstick, and left in a pool of blood. That was not the end of it.
The attackers went off in search of heavy objects to continue the assault. Boyd was hit in the face with a microwave oven, and drenched with bleach. They continued to hit him with their fists and various objects long after he had lost consciousness.
The beating went on for more than two minutes before guards intervened.
History of Schizophrenia
Why was this mentally ill young man placed in a unit full of men known to be violent is still to be determined? Boyd had a history of schizophrenia, and had been in and out of jail for various minor offenses, such as property damage. He could lose control at home when arguing with family members. In one instance, he threatened them with a knife. They would call the police, but rather than receive mental health treatment, officers would lock him up.
When he entered the Essex County Jail on September 9, he was subject to pandemic quarantine restrictions. After completing quarantine, he was immediately placed in the unit with violent offenders. Jail officials knew of his mental health issues, as he had previously been transferred to a psychiatric hospital in an earlier jail stint. For over a month, Boyd was in the psychiatric hospital, suffering from delusions and violent outbursts. After returning to jail, he was put on close watch status, with staff stating concerns about his potential for aggression.
The jail did not notify Boyd’s family about the attack. It was only after his mother had not heard from him for a few days – Boyd called home regularly because he felt unsafe – that she called the jail. She was simply told he was not there. She began calling hospitals and found out her son was in a coma at Newark’s University Hospital.
Prison Violence Rising
As with so much in today’s world, part of the rise in prison violence is driven by the coronavirus. The pandemic exacerbated understaffing in jails and prisons, as the virus spread rapidly through many facilities. Retirements and resignations have increased, while fewer new guards have been hired.
Death in December
On December 3, violence claimed the life of another detainee at the Essex County Jail. Dan Milford Gelin, 27, succumbed after being stabbed by another inmate. That prisoner has been charged with murder.