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Riot at CCA Prison Hospitalizes 15 Guards

A minor riot on July 15 2000, left fifteen guards and one prisoner injured at the North Fork Correctional Facility in Sayre, Oklahoma. Six guards were sent to area hospitals where they were treated for minor cuts and bruises. One guard suffered a broken nose.

The incident began when a guard observed two prisoners passing a paper bag on the recreation yard and went to investigate. When a second guard intervened a scuffle ensued. The situation escalated as more prisoners and guards got involved. Nineteen prisoners were implicated and segregated from the rest of the population. No weapons were involved in the incident.

All of the 1,434 prisoners in the privately owned Oklahoma prison are from Wisconsin. John Litscher, secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Corrections, sent two prison investigators to Sayre the next day to interview guards and prisoners. The contents of the bag was not determined but it was verified that prison response teams used tear gas to bring the situation under control.

The North Fork facility is a private prison ooperated by Corrections Corporation of America. Susan Hart, spokeswoman for CCA, said "our staff has been interviewing people all day" and are "still trying to determine what happened, and if any criminal charges can be filed."

This was the second disturbance to occur at the North Fork facility. In March 1999, a guard was physically and verbally assaulted, four prisoners were injured, and 15 staff members were taken hostage during a skirmish in the chow hall.

Wisconsin State Rep. Scott Walker is convinced that prison officials acted properly. He believes that guards "got things under control and immediately notified officials in Wisconsin." He goes on to say that Wisconsin "will continue to send inmates there until we can deal with the over crowding in Wisconsin." Sen. Gwendolynne Moore (DMilwaukee), an opponent of outofstate prison transfers, was unavailable for comment.

Sources: Dallas Morning News, Journal Sentinel

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