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Inmates charged in fatal riot stage brief hunger strike

July 31, 2018

DOVER, Del. (AP) — More than a dozen Delaware inmates charged in a fatal prison riot staged a brief hunger strike this week, Department of Correction officials confirmed Tuesday.

Officials said 14 inmates at Sussex Correctional Institute in Georgetown began refusing meals at breakfast Monday.

DOC spokeswoman Jayme Gravell said in an email Tuesday evening that the demonstration had ended, and that the all of the involved inmates had eaten and taken their medication as prescribed.

Gravell earlier confirmed that all 14 inmates were involved in the February 2017 riot at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna, during which a prison guard was killed and three other staffers were taken hostage. Three other riot defendants being housed at SCI continued to eat meals. The remaining riot defendant is being held at an out-of-state prison.

“Apparently issues have arisen with prison conditions since all the defendants are now together at SCI,” Patrick Collins, a lawyer serving as coordinating counsel for defense attorneys in the case, said via email Tuesday.

Collins said some riot defendants who were being held at the Howard R. Young prison in northern Delaware were recently moved to SCI in southern Delaware, where the other defendants have been held.

It’s unclear what impact the move may have had on housing conditions for the riot defendants as a group, or on prison privileges usually afforded to pretrial detainees, such as recreational time, visitation and phone calls.

“We decline to comment on their demands,” Gravell said in an email before the demonstration ended. He added that housing and privileges are dictated by Bureau of Prison policies.

Sixteen of the 18 defendants are charged with first-degree murder and assault. All of the defendants are charged with kidnapping, riot and conspiracy in the February uprising, during which correctional officer Steven Floyd was killed.

Prosecutors plan to try the defendants in small groups, with the first trial scheduled to start in October.

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