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Archive for Wednesday, July 13, 2011

13 inmates charged in Fort Leavenworth prison uprising

July 13, 2011

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— Thirteen inmates at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth face charges for their roles in an August 2010 uprising in the prison's special housing unit.

Army spokesman Jeff Wingo said Wednesday the incident occurred last Aug. 12 when two inmates in the maximum security wing who were out of their cells for recreation overpowered a corrections officer.

The men then took the keys and unlocked the cells of 11 other inmates. The rest of the 450-inmate prison was locked down without incident while guards regained control of the unit.

"They didn't get out of the unit, but they did take control," Wingo said. "All 13 inmates then worked collectively to maintain control of the unit for several hours."

The unit was one of seven special housing units, including one where inmates on death row are kept. Wingo said none of the death row inmates were involved in the incident in question.

The inmates fashioned weapons from wooden brooms and metal table legs, flooded the housing unit and barricaded the doors during the standoff. An Army Criminal Investigation Command team and barracks staff tried to negotiate the release of the guard, but efforts failed.

Wingo said the disturbance ended shortly after 10 p.m. when a special reaction team entered the special housing unit, subdued the inmates and rescued the corrections officer. The team used pepper spray and rubber bullets to subdue the inmates, several of whom were treated for minor injuries.

The corrections officer and one member of the response team who suffered non-life threatening injuries were treated and released from nearby hospitals.

The inmates involved face a several charges, including mutiny and kidnapping. Four of the inmates have completed general courts martial resulting in sentences of 40 months to 15 years, which will be served consecutively with their current sentences.

The prison is the only maximum-security facility in the U.S. military. All inmates housed the prison have sentences of at least five years and are from all branches of the military.

There were two large uprisings at the old military prison at Fort Leavenworth in the 1990s. The first in 1992 involved several hundred inmates who refused to return to their cells after changes in regulations regarding smoking, clemency and movies.

In 1996, four guards and three inmates were injured in a disturbance involving between 35 and 50 inmates. One guard was taken hostage after he confronted an inmate for violating the prison dress code by wearing a T-shirt on his head.

The new prison, with space for 515 beds, opened in September 2002. It is adjacent to the newly built Joint Regional Confinement Facility that opened in 2010. That prison is where suspected WikiLeaks suspect Pfc. Bradley Manning is being held while his case is pending in military court. Manning is suspected of supplying classified documents to the WikiLeaks website.

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