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Prison Officer Charged in Assault on Inmate, 86

December 28, 2018

SHIRLEY -- A corrections officer at Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center was arrested at the prison last Thursday after he allegedly punched an 86-year-old inmate multiple times.

Joseph Sampson, 35, of Westminster, has been charged with assault and battery with serious bodily on a person over the age of 60. He was arraigned on Friday in Clinton District Court, and posted $500 cash bail.

Sampson has been placed on paid administrative leave at the maximum-security prison in Shirley.

“The Department of Correction is aware of an incident between a correction officer and an inmate that occurred at Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center on December 20th,” a Department of Correction spokesman said in a statement Thursday evening. “This incident was referred to the Worcester County District Attorney’s Office and is currently under investigation.”

Sampson allegedly punched 86-year-old inmate Paul Smith three times. Due to state confidentiality laws, the Department of Correction is not allowed to discuss specific details regarding an inmate’s incarceration.

Sampson’s attorney, Kenneth Anderson, said the inmate attempted to bite and spit on Sampson. The officer’s reaction was consistent with his training, his attorney said.

“He’s entitled to use the force he used to ward off an attack,” Anderson said.

State Police didn’t take enough time to review the incident nor his training, his attorney argues.

“There was no real investigation,” Anderson said. “They really jumped the gun here with a knee-jerk reaction.”

Sampson is expected to return to court on Jan. 24.

Follow Rick Sobey on Twitter @rsobeyLSun.

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