top of page
  • Writer's pictureSam Orlando

Red Onion Racism? Lawsuit Alleges Officer Encouraged White Inmate to Attack and Kill Black Inmate

Written by: Sam Orlando

ROANOKE, VIRGINIA - A federal lawsuit has been lodged against a prison supervisor at Red Onion State Prison, alleging racial bias, incitement to violence, and a stifling of inmates' grievance procedures.

Brian Richardson, the plaintiff, filed the suit under the Civil Rights Act (42 U.S.C. § 1983) in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia. The lawsuit draws attention to Sgt. Dutton, the named defendant, who is a supervisor at the prison, according to the Complaint.

According to court documents, Richardson alleges that on the morning of July 18, 2023, Sgt. Dutton engaged in a conversation with a white inmate in the DI-Housing unit. During the conversation, Dutton allegedly instructed the inmate on methods to physically harm Richardson, suggesting the intent to cause significant injury or death. Moreover, the lawsuit asserts that Dutton reassured the inmate that no repercussions would ensue due to his white race.

Further claims in the lawsuit detail an alleged pattern of misconduct at Red Onion State Prison. Richardson describes the facility as operating under "illegal military tactics," with a hierarchy that is seemingly ignorant of, or possibly complicit in, such behaviors. The court documents also suggest that the warden and assistant warden have instituted a policy preventing Richardson from accessing grievance forms or raising formal complaints.

The suit, while nominally asking for $100.00, underscores deep concerns about the operational integrity of Red Onion State Prison and potential racial discrimination in the treatment of inmates. Richardson's primary goal seems to be shedding light on these pressing issues rather than seeking a significant monetary award. The outcome of the lawsuit hinges on his ability to substantiate these severe claims. Though Richardson mentions housing unit cameras that might have recorded some of these purported events, it's yet unclear whether such evidence will surface and its potential impact.

The Virginia Department of Corrections and Red Onion State Prison have yet to issue a public statement in response to the lawsuit's claims. Sgt. Dutton will be required to respond to Richardson's complaint within 21 days to avoid losing the case by default.

Civil rights advocates and prison reform groups are watching cases like these closely, as they could shed light on the conditions inside one of Virginia's maximum-security prisons and potentially set a precedent for future cases involving inmate rights and racial bias in the state's prison system.

The case is an unsettling reminder of the challenges and concerns that persist regarding the treatment of inmates and the potential abuse of power within correctional facilities.

For more details on this developing story, please follow our continued coverage.


bottom of page