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Vermont Prisoners Riot in Massachusetts County Jail

Eleven prisoners from Vermont were the principal participants in a recent disturbance at the Franklin County, Masschusetts county jail, according to Vermont Corrections Commissioner Andy Pallito.

Three other prisoners from Massachusetts also took part in the incident, which resulted in the destruction of furniture, a guard station, a computer work-station, and security cameras, as well as water damage from a sprinkler system which was activated.

According to Sheriff Christopher Donelan, the matter apparently started when the prisoners refused to report to their cells at the end of the day, as is customary at 9:30 p.m. The prisoners involved then started throwing furniture, blankets, and other items. The incident was resolved by members of the sheriff's jail tactical team, who then locked up the alleged perpetrators in other parts of the jail.

Those involved will likely face additional criminal charges, be transferred to another facility, and also face discipline from the Vermont prison system. For more than ten years Vermont has transferred part of their prisoners to other states, and they are currently held in Kentucky and Arizona, in addition to Massachusetts.

Commissioner Pallito stated that most of the Vermont prisoners in the facility, located in Greenfield, Massachusetts, were serving short sentences, or were awaiting admittance another one of Vermont's correctional programs or work camp. Pallito claimed that the incident was unusual because, "We had no advanced notice that something was brewing and did not receive the usual clues such as grievances, calls from family members, (or) letters. In fact, our staff have made frequent trips to this site. Our initial indication from those involved is that this event was not planned, but built on a desire to not lock-in. The participants stated that as time went on, the incident just got out of hand."

The Franklin County sheriff estimated that the riot at the county jail resulted in at least $250,000 in damages. Commissioner Pallito has apologized for the actions of the Vermont inmates.



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