Inmates close Alaska prison section; officers regain control

May 8, 2019

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Inmates protesting an early cell inspection took over a wing of an Alaska maximum security prison for about nine hours and wrecked equipment inside, corrections officials said.

The protesting prisoners damage fire suppressant systems, plumbing, computer lines and glass.

“Officials at the prison estimate the damage at roughly $100,000,” Corrections Department spokeswoman Sarah Gallagher said in an email response to questions.

Seward is a city of 2,500 on Resurrection Bay about 75 miles (120 kilometers) south of Anchorage.

Spring Creek Correctional Center was completed in 1988. The prison can house 500 prisoners. The facility has a decentralized campus design, with three “houses” that are separated from the administration complex by a recreation field, according to the department.

The disturbance occurred at a 64-bed general population unit that houses medium- and close-custody offenders. The unit held 62 inmates Tuesday night.

Prisoners at 9 p.m. barricaded the entry to their section and began destroying property. They were protesting having to wake up for an 8 a.m. cell inspection, Gallagher said.

“They did not make any demands,” she said.

Response teams from Kenai and Anchorage arrived about 3 a.m.

The teams used equipment to break through the barrier created by inmates. No one was injured in the disturbance.

Inmates were exposed nonlethal chemical agents, Gallagher said. Nurses and other medical staff checked prisoners for injuries, and prisoners were decontaminated.

Prisoners in the disturbance will face internal discipline, Gallagher said, and possibly additional criminal prosecution as Alaska State Troopers investigate

“Those offenders involved have been placed in a more restrictive housing environment,” Gallagher said. “No charges have been filed at this time as DOC is still conducting the investigation.”