Unruly inmates destroy TV at Harford jail

January 30, 2002|By Lane Harvey Brown | Lane Harvey Brown,SUN STAFF

Charges were pending yesterday against more than two dozen inmates at the Harford County Detention Center accused in a nearly three-hour spree Monday that included smashing a television set and setting bed linens on fire, a sheriff's office spokesman said.

No inmates or correctional officers were injured in the disturbance, which was touched off about 4:30 p.m. Monday when prisoners in cellblock B smashed a television set in the block's day room, said Detective Tom Walsh, a spokesman for the Harford County sheriff's office.

"They claim they were upset by a reduction of television channels offered to them in the block," Walsh said. The group brandished shards of glass and broken broom and mop handles as correctional officers outside the block shouted for them to stop, Walsh said. Inmates also destroyed a pay telephone on the wall.

About 6 p.m., inmates in nearby cellblock C learned of and joined the fracas, Walsh said. They used objects in their cells to short-circuit an electrical socket and used their bed linens to set a fire, he said. Prisoners then complied with orders to leave cellblock C and were shackled as officers quickly extinguished the small blaze.

About 7 p.m., corrections officers sprayed pepper powder pellets into cellblock B to subdue the inmates, who filed out within minutes. Two inmates from cellblock B were taken by armed guards to Upper Chesapeake Medical Center after they complained of breathing problems, Walsh said. They were released and returned to the detention center.

By 7:30 p.m., order was restored, Walsh said. In all, 28 inmates were involved in the melee.

"The sheriff's office obviously is not going to tolerate that kind of behavior," Walsh said. "The sheriff's office runs the detention center, not the inmates."

The prisoners face detention center disciplinary charges and criminal charges of malicious destruction of property, Walsh said. Damage estimates were not available.

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