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Riot at FCI Florence

Florence, CO, is the future site of the federal government's new supermax prison. Eventually Florence will have a minimum, medium, maximum and supermax prison within one big complex. The minimum and medium sections are already opened and operational. PLN has reported on the control unit aspect of Florence in the past.

At about 7:30 PM on February 26, 1994, prisoners began to riot in the outdoor recreation area and it spread to the indoor recreation, education, chapel and living units. One guard and an undisclosed number of prisoners suffered minor injuries during the melee. The prison suffered fire, smoke and water damage but BOP officials did not provide a dollar estimate on the damage. The medium security prison was originally designed to hold 700 to 800 prisoners but currently holds 1,200. It opened in January of 1993.

The February 28, 1994, article from the Cañon City Daily Record did not cite the causes or reasons behind the riot. However, a separate article in the February 27, 1994, issue of the Rocky Mountain News stated that the BOP was already investigating mismanagement and unrest at FCI Florence. Nineteen staff members and supervisors signed a petition asking Senator Ben Nighthorse to investigate racial discrimination, harassment and unfair labor practices against staff at the prison. Four prison supervisors, three of them black, have been placed on indefinite suspension for allegedly challenging decisions by the prison warden.

The suspended supervisors claim that due to mismanagement prisoners have: stolen hand tools left by landscapers working at the prison and fashioned them into weapons; organized and carried out two hunger strikes and a work strike; set fires in segregation and housing units and refused to allow guards to handcuff two prisoners after a beating between gangs. The prison spokesperson claimed to have no knowledge of any of these events.

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