Inmates rampage at Vermont's Northeast Kingdom prison

The Boston Globe

ST. JOHNSBURY, Vt. — Two prison inmates were in segregation Monday after they smashed a television, broke sprinklers and attacked people during a weekend rampage at Northeast Regional Correctional Facility, authorities said.

State Corrections Commissioner Robert Hofmann called it minor and saying it was "contained from the get-go."

"The incident was two guys, contained in one unit," Hofmann said. "There was no ability for them to escape, no risk to the public, no risk to the rest of the institution."

Robert Kupec, facilities coordinator for state prisons, said, "They were people that just thought now's a time, let's create a little havoc and see what we can do to get some notoriety."

The incident occurred Saturday night and prompted a nine-hour lockdown -- ending at 6 a.m. Sunday -- in which 21 inmates were moved to the prison gymnasium to spend the night.

Hofmann said one other inmate "vocalized support" for the two instigators, but no other inmates joined in the melee. which began after one called for medical attention and a prison employee opened the door to their cell, according to Kupec.

The two threw a cooler at the staff person and proceeded to trash their housing unit, using broken glass from the television to threaten people, setting a file cabinet up as a barricade and breaking sprinklers, causing some flooding, Kupec said.

They threw sharp objects and assaulted an unidentified inmate -- he wasn't seriously injured -- before a Correctional Emergency Response Team arrived and a negotiator talked the men down, Kupec said.

"The negotiator did an excellent job, talked witha them for 90 or 120 minutes," Hofmann said. "He did an excellent job of convincing these people that it was futile, that they could end it the easy way or the hard way."

The two were moved to the Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield, where they were placed in segregation, Hofmann said. Vermont law allows prisons to keep someone in segregation for up to 30 days, he said.

Vermont State Police were called in to investigate. Sgt. John Flannigan, spokesman for the force, said Monday the investigation likely would take a few days. He said the inmates involved would not be publicly identified until they are formally charged.

Copyright 2007 Boston Globe

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