Goshen News, Goshen, IN

April 26, 2007

Aftermath of New Castle riot reroutes prisoners

By Kristine Brite

PLAINFIELD, Ind. — If the behavior of inmates transferred from the New Castle Correctional Facility to facilities here is any indication, rioting must be exhausting.

Ten inmates were transferred to the Plainfield Correctional Facility and 123 ended up at the Plainfield Diagnostic Center. Phil Slavens, superintendent for re-entry at the Plainfield Facility said the prisoners have caused no problems so far.

“They’re basically just sleeping,” he said.

As a precaution, the inmates landed in segregation upon arrival to their new home, Slavens said.

According to a press release from the Indiana Department of Corrections, offenders enroute to lunch and participating in recreation time began to resist staff orders to return to cells at about 2 p.m. April 24.

A riot involving about 500 of the 1,668 offenders residing in the facility broke out. Offenders disrobed and destroyed furnishings and broke windows.

Slavens said the inmates were transferred to facilities across the state because some of the living space at the New Castle facility remains unlivable and as a precaution to avoid future incidences.

Two New Castle staff members received minor injuries and seven offenders also suffered from minor injuries, mainly due to tear gas used to control the population.

Slavens pointed out that his staff doesn’t yet know if any of the new prisoners was even involved in the riot. All of the prisoners here originate from Indiana, he said.

New Castle officials reported that both prisoners from Indiana and those transferred last month from Arizona were involved in the melee.

“We don’t know the involvement of any of these guys,” Slavens said. “We just know they were there.”

He didn’t know how long they would remain in segregation, but did say that will be determined after each is in individually interviewed by investigators.

Plainfield Correctional Facility is a medium security facility off of U.S. 40, just west of Plainfield. The Plainfield Diagnostic Center serves as a reception center for all male offenders, except for convicted murderers, entering the Indiana prison system.

During the riot in New Castle, Slavens said the facilities here locked down for a short time. He said he wanted to make sure staff remained available to mobilize to help at New Castle, if needed.

He said many of his staff members did put in extra hours transporting prisoners from New Castle to Plainfield.

“We got every spare person, every vehicle we could up there,” he said.

He said he and other staff members perused the facility to gauge reaction to news of demonstrations elsewhere in the state. He said inmates here seemed to view the rioters as “knuckleheads” and showed no indication of sympathy.

Should an incident happen here, Slavens said his facility has specific rules of conduct. Outside law enforcement would be notified, even if the situation were contained, he said.

News media would also be alerted, he said, to spread the word to the public.

An emergency, or “e” squad with special training could also be called in to control the situation.

But, based on the behavior of the newly transported prisoners, Slavens said he didn’t think any of those steps would be needed here.

“We’re vigilant,” he said. “But we don’t anticipate any problems.”

Kristine Brite writes for the Hendricks County Flyer in Avon, Ind.

By the numbers:

133 — New Castle Correctional Facility inmates now housed in Plainfield facilities

2 hours, 44 minutes — time frame inmates at NCCF resisted staff orders

500 — estimated number of inmates involved in demonstration

600+ — number of inmates from Arizona transferred to the New Castle facility