Curtis Garrett

Curtis Garrett with his aunt, Eva Carr-Hawkes. Garrett said he was attacked by prison dogs.

Two men allegedly injured by prison security dogs — one of whom was partially disabled — have filed civil rights suits accusing the Virginia Department of Corrections of the systemic, brutal use of canines on prisoners.

Curtis J. Garrett, 29, a former inmate, says he was attacked by dogs in 2018 at the Sussex II State Prison, leading to permanent physical injuries and a mental breakdown requiring psychiatric hospitalization. Corey E. Johnson, 51, an inmate at Red Onion State Prison, was allegedly mauled by a dog there last May.

Both inmates contend they were obeying orders and not resisting corrections officers when attacked by the dogs, according to the suits filed in U.S. District Court in Richmond and Roanoke.

"Although the use of canines in a force capacity is widely recognized as an extreme and brutal measure, the official policies, practices, and customs of the Virginia Department of Corrections ... continue to allow the use of unmuzzled canines to terrify and attack prisoners," the suits allege.

The plaintiffs allege violations of Eighth Amendment protections against cruel and unusual punishment and name various Department of Corrections employees and officials as defendants.

They are seeking unspecified damages and a court-ordered end to prison policies that are said to "permit, condone, and ratify canine attacks on prisoners."