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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Riot at North Florida prison causes extensive damage, no injuries



Inmates drilled through a dorm wall to get into a canteen, tore out toilets and "destroyed everything that could be destroyed" during a late-night riot at Franklin Correctional Institution in North Florida Thursday that resulted in extensive damage but no injuries, sources have told the Herald/Times.

The riot involved an estimated 300 inmates, resulted in extensive damage to the prison, left two dorms uninhabitable but resulted in no injuries, prison officials confirmed.

"Nobody's been hurt and the situation is under control." said Alberto Moscoso, spokesman for the Department of Corrections. He called it a "security-related injury involving a dynamic mixture of inmates."

Prisoners in damaged Dorms E and F were bused to other facilities early Friday after the disturbance, which began at about 11 p.m. Thursday night, Moscoso confirmed.

"Utilizing a trained tactical response, department staff quickly and effectively quelled the situation,'' he said in a statement. "Due in no small part to the judgment and professionalism of the responding officers, there were no serious injuries to either inmates or employees."

This is the second major disturbance at Franklin since January and the third this year. In April, a corrections officer was ambushed and stabbed and several other officers injured during a fight at Columbia Correctional Institution in Lake City. An injured officer was airlifted to Shands Hospital in Gainesville.

In January, Florida prison officials quelled a riot by firing warning shots and shooting inmates with non-lethal pellets.

For the past year, three outside audits of the Department of Corrections have that the agency's dangerously low staffing levels have warned of the combustible nature of the state's prison system.

But cuts made during the recession have not been restored and officers have been required to work overtime to cover extra shifts while many positions are left with one officer responsible for  two assignments, a practice known as "ghosting."

Prisons secretary Julie Jones has acknowledged for months that state prisons are dangerously understaffed and that they have narrowly avoided inmate riots. She asked legislators for $36 million to fund 734 new officer positions that she called “imperative’’ to improve staffing by reducing shifts from 12 hours to eight, reducing overtime and fatigue. Legislators rejected Jones' request and instead provided funding for 215 new officers.

The agency will conduct an investigation of the incident to determine and evaluate the response, Moscoso said.

[Last modified: Friday, June 10, 2016 2:22pm]


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