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Officials probe disturbance at Cedar Junction prison
8 inmates refuse to return to cells

By Scott Goldstein, Globe Correspondent | April 20, 2005

Prison authorities are investigating how eight inmates, believed to be intoxicated on homemade brew, took control of their cell block in the state's maximum security prison, MCI-Cedar Junction, for several hours Monday night, officials said.

After the inmates refused to return to their cells in the Walpole prison about 6:30 p.m., the correction officer supervising the block called for help. Officers sealed off the cell block, isolating the inmates on the first floor of the triple-tier block, said Diane Wiffin, a Department of Correction spokeswoman.

The 32 other prisoners in the general population cell block had already returned to their cells, Wiffin said.

''There's no indication that this was a coordinated effort," Wiffin said. ''They just wouldn't lock in."

Four hours later, with the approval of Commissioner Kathleen M. Dennehy, 30 armed officers, including the department's tactical unit, overpowered the inmates in a matter of minutes, Wiffin said, adding that the time the prisoners were out of their cells was probably more a reflection of the time it took the tactical unit to prepare to enter the area.

The prisoners caused some minor damage, including breaking some lights, Wiffin said.

Steve Kenneway, president of the Massachusetts Correction Officers Federated Union, said he spoke with officers working at the facility Monday night who described the incident. ''My understanding was it was very quick and efficient," he said. ''I guess as soon as the inmates knew that the tactical team was there, they didn't put up much of a fight."

The unit wears full riot gear and carries nonlethal weapons, Kenneway said. He and Wiffin said the unit is called in for similar situations a few times per year.

No prisoners or officers were injured in Monday's standoff, and while Kenneway suggested the situation resulted from chronic understaffing, Wiffin insisted that ''there was sufficient staff to isolate and contain the incident."

Wiffin said the matter is under investigation, including how the inmates allegedly obtained alcohol.

Kenneway said it is not uncommon for inmates to concoct their own brew.

Basic ingredients often include fruit juice or water, sugar, and bread, he said. The mixture is left to ferment for a period of time before the inmates drink it.

''The biggest trick is keeping the smell down," Kenneway said. ''Everybody knows once you've cracked it open, it's really easy to get caught doing it."

Kenneway said the disturbance points to a larger problem of understaffing, both when the inmates became unruly and in the fact that their suspected alcohol went undetected.

''If you don't have enough officers on duty to do the inspections the way they should be done continuously, these are the type of things that are going to be hid by the inmates," Kenneway said.

The eight prisoners were being held in a separate area yesterday and had not been charged. Reports on the episode are expected to be sent to the Norfolk district attorney's office today, said Jonathan Rutley, spokesman for the district attorney's office.
 

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Hope none of the CJ Screws got injured during the fracas..
Question: Why did it take 4 to authorize & mobilize the TRT?
 

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4 hrs sounds about right in todays corrections. Would it also take 4 hrs if it turned into a hostage situation? Sad thought, but it would. Every thing is right there in the armory at every prison to have control within the half hour. You just need people willing to make that call.
 

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GateKeeper";p="63080 said:
...Would it also take 4 hrs if it turned into a hostage situation? Sad thought, but it would....
That's shameful Gate.
From the sounds of things, the section of the block that the pruno-punched agitators were in was fairly
sealed off to the creeps and staff was relatively safe; but you're right!

What if it was a hostage situation?
You guys should be permitted to move swiftly and decisively (and IMHO with extreme prejudice if necessary)
to quell these kinds of disturbances.

Unfortunately until the queen is "dethroned", it doesn't look like that will be happening any time soon.

Sometimes it must feel like you are shoveling shit against the tide...
Hang in There & Stay Safe Boys....
:thumbup:
 

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Kozmo, yes it is sad. I call it how I see it, as shameful as you think it is. Care, Custody and Control. That’s the 3 C’s we live by. And thank GOD it didn’t turn against staff.
 

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Also Kozmo, on the brite side, I heard the Tac / Srt team used stun grenades and bean-bag filled shotguns to re-gain control of these drunken inmates!! Thats got to hurt!!
 
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