ACLU sues on behalf of man brutally beaten inside Los Lunas prison

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LOS LUNAS, N.M. — Surveillance video is fueling a lawsuit against the New Mexico Department of Corrections. Attorneys say correctional officers orchestrated a brutal attack against an inmate at the Central New Mexico Corrections Facility in Los Lunas this past summer.

Video shows inmate Nickolas Milligan talking to a guard. Milligan is reportedly refusing to grind paint off cell block floors without protective equipment. Then, Milligan is seen getting attacked as the guards stand nearby .

“We can all agree, people in the New Mexico Department of Corrections’ custody should not have to live in fear of guards harming them and endangering their lives,” said Jason Wallace, the attorney representing Milligan.

Wallace, along with the ACLU of New Mexico, filed a lawsuit Monday, claiming correction guards ordered other inmates to attack Milligan for not complying with orders. Wallace said guards denied him medical treatment and tried to cover it up. Milligan served a year for drug-related charges.

“Going to prison is your punishment,” said Barron Jones, ACLU-NM senior policy strategist. “Once there, you should be treated with all the dignity and respect one deserves out here in the free world.”

Jones said this is just another example showing the urgent need for greater transparency. Democratic Rep. Micaela Lara Cadena says she is working to address that in House Bill 297.

“If we, as a a state, have the power and authority to lock someone up, then we need to be able to be accountable to that authority,” Lara Cadena said.

The legislation calls for a more transparent rule-making process. It would also create a correction advisory board, and an ombudsman to field complaints and independently investigate.

KOB 4 reached out to the state’s Department of Corrections for a response. A spokesperson said they cannot comment on pending litigation.

Track HB 297 during the legislative session.