Roxbury inmates protest conditions

October 29, 2005|By GREG GARLAND | GREG GARLAND,SUN REPORTER

About 130 inmates at a prison in Hagerstown staged a 30-hour protest this week over living conditions, refusing to return food trays and blocking windows of their cell doors so correctional officers could not see inside, prison officials confirmed yesterday.

The protest at Roxbury Correctional Institution was over restrictions on personal items prisoners are allowed to keep in their cells, according to Major Priscilla Doggett, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Division of Correction.

She said the protest began at 5 a.m. Wednesday when inmates refused to return their trays after breakfast and blocked their door windows. It ended at noon Thursday, after the prisoners agreed to cooperate with authorities, she said.

Inmates did not resist when correctional officers eventually forced their cell doors open, Doggett said.

RCI's warden met with the prisoners after they ended their protest and agreed to look into their complaints, Doggett said.

"We were willing to demonstrate patience to resolve this peacefully," Doggett said.

Only inmates in two segregation tiers were involved in the protest. The rest of the prison, which houses 1,800 inmates, operated as normal, Doggett said.

A recent rash of inmate-on-inmate violence at RCI led to the placement of more inmates in segregation, she said. Some of those in segregation for administrative reasons had to be housed on tiers for disciplinary segregation inmates and, for security reasons, were not permitted to have personal items with them in their cells there, she said.

greg.garland@baltsun.com

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