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Hot sauce used by prison guards to inflict abuse, N.C. inmates allege

(CBS/AP) RALEIGH, N.C. - Prison officials in North Carolina are calling for a criminal investigation after inmates alleged corrections officers forced them to rub habanero hot sauce on their genitals, resulting in painful blisters, CBS Charlotte reports.

The station says that in July, six inmates from the Sampson Correctional Institution sent a hand-written letter to the U.S. District Court in Greensboro complaining that staff had also forced them to perform numerous humiliating acts for the entertainment of guards, including stripping nude and pretending to have sex.

The inmates also reported being forced to gulp a super-hot "Exotic Hot Sauce" purchased off the Internet and to slather it on their testicles, as well as being forced to grab and kiss wild snakes while working on a road crew and throw captured rabbits into oncoming traffic.

Those who performed for the guards were rewarded with preferential work assignments, food, cigarettes and beer, the inmates alleged, according to CBS Charlotte. Both tobacco and alcohol are banned in North Carolina's prisons.

The Sampson medium-security facility houses about 500 male inmates in Clinton, about 60 miles southeast of Raleigh.

N.C. Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Pamela Walker said Monday that officials had asked the State Bureau of Investigation to review conduct at the prison.

Walker said one staff member there has been reassigned and another went on leave after the start of an internal investigation. Additional personnel action could be forthcoming, she said.

"(The Division of Adult Correction) considers...the alleged actions in violation of policy, which warrants further review by management," Walker said.

In their letter, the inmates said they feared retaliation from the staff at the prison.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Joi Elizabeth Peake agreed to accept the letter as a formal federal civil rights action, but wrote that the complaint was filed in the incorrect judicial district. The prison's location puts the case under the jurisdiction of the federal court in Raleigh, not Greensboro.

Walker said the prison system learned of the allegations through internal grievances filed by the inmates, not from the letter to the court.

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