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U.S.P. Lewisburg Lockdown

On November 1, 1995, several prisoners created a disturbance in the mess hall. They took a case of soda pop and barricaded themselves into one of the dorms. They proceeded to construct a cannon, using a cue ball for a projectile. When the riot squad stormed the dorm, the prisoners fired the "cannon" at them. The pool ball went through a chicken-wire enforced window of a door. The prisoners then soaped the floor and turned a fire hose on the riot squad.

The riot squad turned off the water and then tear-gassed the entire unit. They proceeded to drag out and beat every prisoner from the unit, despite the fact that only a handful had been involved. Over twenty prisoners were beaten so badly by the riot squad that they required medical attention.

After they had all of the prisoners handcuffed and stripped naked, they had them lay on the floor for eighteen hours! Men were defecating on themselves because if they spoke they were kicked in the head. Almost the entire unit was transferred.

After this, the warden went to all of the various prisoner leaders and asked them to have a meeting, amongst themselves, to try and calm the situation down. There was talk of a work strike, but many of the (mainly younger) prisoners wanted to start a large scale riot. The prisoner leaders decided to call a work strike, but with only one demand. They demanded that the prisoners who had been beaten by the riot squad receive proper medical attention. It was a compromise, because many of the prisoners were so angry that the threat of a riot was very real.

The men at that meeting then went back to the units and held meetings. One prisoner said that out of 200 prisoners in his unit, over 190 attended the unit meeting. He said that after eleven years in prison, he had never seen such unity.

The warden immediately locked down the entire prison. Every prisoner leader who was at the meeting (the one the warden asked them to have) was put in the hole and the majority of them were transferred. Over 400 prisoners were transferred in all.

The riot squad would walk up and down the units at night with flashlights and pull prisoners out of their cells. The administration was clearly intimidated by the unity of the prisoners and responded with swift and brutal retribution.

Source: Lewisburg, PA readers

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