ALDEN — Four corrections officers suffered minor injuries trying to quell a fight involving more than three dozen inmates at Wende Correctional Facility last month, union officials said.
The fight on Mach 27 began in a recreation yard when two inmates began brawling, Mark Deburgomaster, western region vice president for the state Corrections Officers and Police Benevolent Association.
An officer ordered the men to stop by they refused and one of the inmates began stabbing the other with a shank.
That prompted other inmates to begin fighting and more officers were called to the yard, Deburgomaster said.
He said officers used pepper spray numerous times but “it had no effect and the fights continued.”
An officer in the yard tower deployed one tear gas canister in the direction of the yard. When the tear gas was deployed, all inmates stopped fighting and became compliant, Deburgomaster said.
The inmates were all removed from the yard and brought to the infirmary where they were treated for a variety of small lacerations and abrasions.
Officers recovered a sharpened makeshift weapon they believed was used in the stabbing. They searched the inmate involved in the initial fight and recovered a second sharpened shank inside his pants. A search of the entire yard yielded three additional plastic shanks.
The inmate who was stabbed sustained a puncture wound to his side torso and laceration to his ear. He and two other inmates were taken to a hospital for treatment.
Seven inmates were placed in Special Housing Units pending disciplinary proceedings. The remaining inmates were locked in their cells after being treated in the infirmary.
Four officers sustained minor injuries during the incident. They were treated by medical staff at the facility and remained on duty.
“Inmate on inmate assaults continue to escalate inside of our prisons and they put our members at risk for injuries trying to contain them,” Deburgomaster said. “Over 1200 inmate on inmate assaults occurred in 2020 and there is no reason to expect that number to go down with disciplinary measures reduced to essentially a slap on the wrist. Since 2012, inmate on inmate assaults have increased by 96 percent, a staggering number considering during that same time frame the inmate population has reduced by over 20,000. Until DOCCS and the state legislature take a hard look at why the violence is occurring this will continue to put officers in harm’s way.”