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Cons run amok: Cell-door glitch sparks Walpole rampage
By Michele McPhee
Tuesday, July 26, 2005 - Updated: 01:09 AM EST

Defective cell doors at a Walpole ``supermax'' prison unit reserved for vicious convicts allowed an inmate to break out of his cell last week and distribute razor blades to other prisoners, the Herald has learned.

The incident was the second escape within the Disciplinary Disorders Unit at MCI-Cedar Junction since November, when a prison guard was blinded in his left eye, and another wounded, after a convict pried open his cell door and attacked both with a pen sharpened into a shiv.

Yesterday, after inquiries from the Herald, a Department of Correction spokeswoman, Diane Wiffin, said the agency is trying to hire a vendor to ``evaluate the issue'' of whether a computer glitch is letting prisoners pry cell doors open.

However, Steve Kenneway, president of the Massachusetts Correction Officers Federated Union, said the response is ``too little, too late,'' adding that there have been numerous complaints about the faulty doors in the supermax unit that have been ignored.

``The DOC knows these doors are defective. We had pushed to have every door fixed. I was assured this was done, but clearly there is another way to manipulate those doors to get them open,'' Kenneway said. ``It's a monumental failure to not provide a safe working environment for our officers. This is the same unit where an officer was attacked and maimed for life.''

Wiffin insisted the two incidents are ``not related.'' She did say, however, that there were seven written complaints filed last week alone regarding malfunctioning doors in the unit. ``The impacted cells have been taken off line pending resolution,'' she said.

In the incident Thursday, Thomas G. Walker, 30, burst out of his cell about 3:47 p.m. and began smashing cell windows before breaking a ``shadow box'' full of razors. A correction SWAT team subdued him with pepper balls two hours later, after he caused $2,000 in damage, Wiffin said.

A prison source who witnessed the incident said Walker was handing the razors to other dangerous convicts. Wiffin said no one was hurt and no blades were recovered. ``He did grab some razor blades,'' Wiffin said. ``Inmates on that cell block were searched and there were no razor blades found.''

Walker, of Webster, has been at the Walpole facility since 2000, when he was convicted on charges that he held a gun to a woman's head during a home invasion. It was unclear what offense he committed at Walpole that led him to be transferred to the disciplinary unit - touted by the DOC as the most secure in the state.

Walker's breakout came eight months after another prisoner, Joseph Clark, ``tore his cell door off the track'' and lunged at two correction officers serving dinner. Officer Steven Viera was left blinded in his left eye. Officer An Lai was stabbed in the nose and right eye and required stitches.

On June 20, Viera received the Medal of Valor from Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey at a ceremony that recognized the bravery of correction officers. But Kenneway said unless the state fixes the problems that have now allowed two convicts to bust out of their cells, the recognition is ``hollow.''

``It doesn't mean much when there is a persistent failure to maintain adequate security standards in the facilities,'' Kenneway said. ``It's like saying, `Here's a pat on the back, but tomorrow you might get stabbed again.' ''
 

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And oh, PS,

The DDU has since been closed, for repairs. So other prisons in the state are now dealing with the states worst, such as SBCC, Norfolk and still Walpole to name them.
 

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I'm sure the State Police were involved in the on the road transport as well. Mass inmate movement like that is always down at night.
 

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Hey Cone, if your still in touch with any of your buddies at Norfolk do ya know how there making out down there?

Where could the put some of Walpole's 10 block / DDU inmates?
 

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Typically when Walpole went off ,we would get transfers into what at the time was called the DSU and RB which were our most secure units at Norfolk. If we didn't have room,we used a "release list" to send some of our RB inmates back out into the camp to make room for the new arrivals.This is probably how it still works since nothing ever changes in Corrections(for the better,that is) I still talk to my bros on occasion and I'll try to find out what what is going on. By the way,the RB is integral to the administration building and hospital so if the shithouse ever goes up in flames,the cons have the whole works...Smart huh?
 

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I just spoke to a buddy who is still at Norfolk.He told me that the RB 3rd floor got 30 inmates from that Walpole jackpot.That only leaves 6cells on the 3rd floor and 30 Norfolk cons who should be locked up, out in the camp.He further stated that the Officer who was stabbed in the eye was only 3 weeks out of the academy. I wish him all the best
 

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cone968";p="70403 said:
I just spoke to a buddy who is still at Norfolk.He told me that the RB 3rd floor got 30 inmates from that Walpole jackpot.That only leaves 6cells on the 3rd floor and 30 Norfolk cons who should be locked up, out in the camp.He further stated that the Officer who was stabbed in the eye was only 3 weeks out of the academy. I wish him all the best
The unfortunate officer who was stabbed in the eye was a Sgt. who had about 18 yrs. in.
 
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