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Multiple officers injured at Great Meadow Correctional Facility

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FORT ANN — Over a dozen officers were injured, five going to the hospital with injuries, when a large group of inmates attacked staff in the recreation yard at Great Meadow Correctional Facility earlier this week.

The incident at the maximum-security state prison in Comstock occurred on Sunday at about 3:15 p.m.

According to a news release from the union representing prison correction officers, the events progressed this way:

“Initially, one inmate attempted to skip the line to use the phone in the yard. An officer ordered the inmate back in line. The inmate ignored the order and began yelling and threatening the officer.

“Additional staff arrived at the scene and when the inmate took an aggressive stance, the officers put the inmate in a body hold, forced him to the ground, and applied handcuffs. Once in handcuffs, the inmate became compliant.

“When staff stood the inmate up from the ground, a second inmate approached officers from behind and shoved one officer away and struck another on the top of the head. Officers immediately grabbed the inmate in a body hold and forced him to the ground and applied handcuffs.

“Both inmates were escorted from the yard and staff closed the yard and ordered the remaining inmates to leave and return to their cell blocks. A large group of inmates approached two officers and began arguing with them. Suddenly, one of the inmates in the group punched one of the officers in the face and the remaining inmates began attacking staff.

“As the incident escalated, additional staff responded to the yard. Chemical agents were utilized to drive the inmates back and stop the attack.

“At one point, an inmate was on top of an officer on the ground attacking him before staff grabbed him and pulled him off and got him in restraints.

“Once the chemical agents took effect, order was restored and the remaining inmates were removed from the yard and placed back in their cells.

“During the ensuing investigation into the attack, multiple inmates were identified for their involvement and were placed in special housing units pending disciplinary charges.

“Medical staff at the facility treated 15 officers for assorted abrasions, bruising and swelling to knees and elbows, and scratches. Five officers needed to be treated at Glens Falls Hospital, including two officers who were punched in the head and sustained lacerations and dizziness from the assaults.

“Staff recovered a makeshift knife in the yard after the incident. It was seized as evidence.”

John Roberts, Northern Region vice president for the the New York State Correctional Officers & Police Benevolent Association, or NYSCOPBA, said in the release: “The level of violence in our correctional facilities has reach a tipping point that needs to be addressed immediately before an officer gets critically injured or even killed in one of these attacks.

“All the HALT Act has done is taken an already violent environment filled with inmate-on-staff and inmate-on-inmate attacks, and made it worse. The Legislature needs to address this immediately and stop turning a blind eye to the violence that is occurring before something tragic happens.”

The Humane Alternatives to Long-Term Solitary Confinement Act was enacted last year in New York state. The HALT Act ended special housing units, including solitary confinement, in state prisons.

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