Mon, Aug 24, 2009 - Page 7 News List

Rioting prisoners torch facility, four remain in hospital


Four prisoners remained hospitalized and hundreds of others had to be relocated on Saturday after rioting inmates set their Kentucky prison on fire.

Flames shot into the air during the melee on Friday night, seriously damaging several buildings, and parts of the medium-security Northpoint Training Center continued to smolder nearly 24 hours later.

The 500 inmates who remained at the prison south of Lexington were being compliant, said Jennifer Brislin, spokeswoman for the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet.

About 700 others were being taken to other facilities across the state. In some cases that meant inmates were double-bunking or sleeping in gyms or other secure buildings inside prisons.

Officials would not say what caused the rioting, which injured eight staff members and eight prisoners. None of the injured staffers were hospitalized, said Cheryl Million, a spokeswoman for the Kentucky Department of Corrections. Authorities would not provide conditions for the inmates still being treated.

Those who remained at Northpoint were getting food and medical care from temporary stations because the fire destroyed six buildings, including a kitchen, medical center, canteen and visitation area. They were to be moved into a 196-bed dormitory that remained habitable, as well as a unit of single cells.

The disturbance started on Friday evening when prisoners set fire to trashcans and other items inside and outside the prison. All fires were contained by 4pm on Saturday, Brislin said.

Officers in riot gear had rushed in with tear gas about 9pm on Friday, and all the inmates were subdued within two hours, authorities said.

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear praised corrections officials and state police for handling the situation without any serious injuries.

Local and state police formed a perimeter outside of the facility to make sure no one escaped.

Prison spokeswoman Mendolyn Cochran told the local newspaper, the Advocate-Messenger of Danville, that the facility had been on lockdown since Tuesday, when a group of inmates assaulted two others.

Million would only say that some inmates had access to matches because smoking is allowed in parts of the prison.

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