5 COs injured in melee involving 20 inmates at Kan. prison

The officers were injured after inmates began attacking each other during an evening meal


John Green
The Hutchinson News

HUTCHINSON, Kan. — A disturbance at the Hutchinson Correctional Facility Central Unit that resulted in the prison being in lockdown through the weekend involved at least 20 inmates and erupted during the evening meal, an HCF spokesman said.

Five correctional officers battered during the melee were treated for their injuries at Hutchinson Regional Medical Center and released, said HCF public information officer Jordan Bell.

He was not aware of any specific inmate injuries, but said any inmates who might have been injured during the disturbance were treated on site and did not require outside medical care.

"All were medically cleared to be placed in restrictive housing," he said. "I think our staff did a great job of limiting the incident and regaining control."

An investigation into what sparked the fight is ongoing, Bell said, but it involved inmates who were leaving the cafeteria after completing the evening meal.

"Our dining hall is fairly large," Bell said. "There can be over 100 inmates at one time eating meals in the dining hall. We do a rotation. They have 20 minutes to eat. When their 20 minutes is done they leave and return to their living unit. So there's a constant in and out during the meal."

The incident didn't involve just one cell block, but the general population, Bell said.

No weapons were involved, Bell said.

While officials have identified 20 inmates involved, Bell didn't know how many officers were involved. The alarm drew officers from throughout the facility.

The lockdown and cancellation of Saturday visitation was a "proactive measure for the safety and security of staff and inmates," Bell said, noting it had nothing to do with staffing levels. "We haven't had any concerns or issues since the prison was placed on lockdown Tuesday evening.

"It's still an ongoing investigation. We're looking into everything to see what occurred and why it occurred. As with any incident, we'll review it. We'll go through and see what we did right and what we did wrong and make any changes we feel necessary."

Visitation at HCF's East and South units was not affected and will proceed as normal.

The Central Unit administration will reevaluate early next week whether to return to a normal visitation schedule, Bell said.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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