Pa. correctional officers remember Camp Hill riot on anniversary
More than 1,000 prisoners rioted, with hundreds injured and 17 people held hostage
By CorrectionsOne Staff
Last Monday marked a grim anniversary. Twenty-one years ago, the State Correctional Institute of Camp Hill, Pa., prison was the scene of a devastating riot.
More than 1,000 prisoners rioted, with hundreds of people being injured. Seventeen people were held hostage.
Recalling the incident, Dennis Pletz, a former correctional officer who worked at the prison, said the inmates drove vehicles into the fences and set them on fire to melt the metal.
"They opened a hole in the first fence. They didn't make it through the second fence. If they would have, the community would have been in a world of hurt," Pletz told CBS 21.
The riot was blamed on myriad problems including overcrowding, understaffing, a militant group of prisoners, mixing violent with nonviolent prisoners and poor construction, according to an article on PennLive.com on the anniversary.
John Palakovich, Camp Hill’s superintendant — who was the prison’s assistant superintendent at the time of the riot — told PennLive many of the officers who were working at the time behaved heroically.
“There was no second-guessing their own safety,” he said. “They took care of what they had to do and didn’t worry about their own safety to help others.”