Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Bayside State Prison guard beat inmates to punish them, federal prosecutors say

John Makos, 41, is charged with conspiracy to deprive inmates of civil rights. He's accused of punching, kicking, and spanking inmates over the course of eight months in 2019.

The Mitchell H. Cohen U.S. Courthouse in Camden.
The Mitchell H. Cohen U.S. Courthouse in Camden.Read moreMARGO REED / Staff Photographer

A corrections officer at Bayside State Prison in Cumberland County has been charged with beating inmates, federal authorities said Friday.

John Makos, 41, faces one count of conspiracy to deprive inmates of civil rights, according to court documents. Acting U.S. Attorney Rachel A. Honig said Makos and others at the prison — including inmates — worked together in 2019 to develop “an ad hoc regime of physical punishments for actual and perceived violations of the prison’s rules and customs.”

In one instance, prosecutors said, Makos and at least one other guard — whom prosecutors did not identify — handcuffed a man’s arms to a fence and a door in the kitchen, spreading his arms apart so that he appeared crucified. Another inmate then swung the door back and forth, prosecutors said, while Makos and the other guard punched the man in the body.

“Prisoners are entitled to be treated with basic dignity, not pummeled and humiliated at the whim of correctional officers,” Honig said in a statement.

Makos’ attorney, Justin R. White, declined to comment.

Prosecutors said Makos’ conduct spanned eight months, between April and December 2019. They said Makos and another officer regularly beat one victim as “punishment,” and that Makos would often do so in a secluded part of the prison kitchen. The man was sometimes left with severe bruises, court documents say, and once had a shoe mark visible on his body after being kicked.

In another encounter, the documents say, Makos forced the man to pull his pants down, then repeatedly spanked him with a ruler. The ruler broke, the documents say, and the man was left with an imprint on his buttocks. Makos later forced the man to show the marks to other inmates.

Makos kicked another victim in the chest after forcing him to place his back against the wall and assume a sitting position, the documents say. And on another occasion, the documents say, Makos kneed the man in the thighs while another guard threw a milk crate at him, an apparent penalty for passing food to other inmates.

Prosecutors said Makos faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison if convicted.