A retired corrections officer who spent her career at the Souza-Baranowski prison is crediting of the quick decisions of those in charge for saving lives during the riot.
“Let them have the unit, let them do what they want,” said Darcy Kelley. “A staff member’s life is more important.”
Kelley says the response from the officers was impressive and they were very fortunate no one got hurt.
Two small gang-related fights broke out in the P1 housing unit, and gained momentum when 46 inmates refused to lock in their cells. Prison leaders made the call to evacuate corrections officers as the Secretary of Public Safety said inmates were “getting ready for war.”
“That to me was not shocking at all. That’s a normal day. An officer at least once a day somebody will find a nice homemade weapon like that,” Kelley said. “They all have protection. Every one of them.”
For three hours the inmates went wild — using those makeshift weapons and fire extinguishers to destroy sprinkler systems, computers, windows, and whatever they could get their hands on. They finally gave up when flooded with pepper spray. Kelley says it’s happened before and it will happen again.
“When we go in there, and those doors lock behind us, we know that could happen at any time,” Kelley said. “We’re not overpaid babysitters. This could happen any second, any day, on any shift. At any prison.”
Many of the inmates had their face covered in the video released by the Department of Corrections. Kelley said it’s less about protecting their identities and more in preparation for the pepper spray they know the tactical team will use to gain control.