Rioting inmates set US prison ablaze22/08/2009 - 16:35:26
Hundreds of prisoners had to be moved today after rioting inmates set fire to a central Kentucky jail.
By early today firefighters had extinguished the fires at the medium-security Northpoint Training Centre in a rural area 30 miles (50 kilometres) south of Lexington, state police said.
Eight inmates were treated for minor injuries, and eight staff were also injured in the melee, although none was admitted to hospital, said Cheryl Million, a spokeswoman for the Kentucky Department of Corrections.
Officers in riot gear rushed the prisoners with tear gas at about 9pm yesterday, and all the inmates were subdued in less than two hours, authorities said.
Six buildings had burned, including a kitchen, medical centre, canteen and visiting area. Ms Million also said all dormitories were damaged to the extent of being uninhabitable, except for one 196-bed unit.
A bus carrying some 42 inmates deemed higher security risks left the property shortly after 6am, heading to an undisclosed facility. It was not clear how many other inmates would have to be moved.
Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear praised corrections officials and state police for handling the situation without any serious injuries.
“Their work last night in the face of the most trying circumstances was truly remarkable,” he said.
“Corrections officials are currently assessing the extent of damage to determine the needs going forward for safely housing prisoners in the coming days and for the long term.”
A state police spokesman said the prisoners were being kept in an outdoor courtyard surrounded by prison guards. Police formed a perimeter around the outside of the facility to make sure no one escaped.
“Everything seems to be calm,” he said.
The rioting began at about 6.30 pm on Friday.
Prison spokeswoman Mendolyn Cochran said the prison had been on lockdown since Tuesday, when one group of inmates assaulted two others.
The melee in Kentucky comes two weeks after more than 1,000 inmates rioted at the California Institution for Men in Southern California.
The prison was designed to hold about half as many inmates, although investigators say they do not know if crowding helped spark the racially-charged riot.
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