Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Prisoners set fires and generally raise hell -- Lancaster, OH

A riot involving 23 prisoners in the west cell block of the Main Street Jail prompted a lockdown and an eventual evacuation of the cell block Monday evening.

SWAT officers, Lancaster police officers, Lancaster Fire Department firefighters and police officers from Fairfield Medical Center converged on the jail at 7:30 p.m. after prisoners began lighting mattresses and toilet paper on fire and throwing items through the cell bars, Fairfield County Sheriff Dave Phalen said.

In all, about 40 law enforcement officers and firefighters responded to the incident.

No one was injured in the riot, which was brought under control by 9 p.m., Phalen said.

Prisoners were strip-searched, bound with Flex-Cuffs and taken to the secure yard behind the jail while debris from the cell block was cleared.

Prisoners were being returned to their cells as of 11 p.m. Monday. Twenty-three prisoners were being housed in the west block's five cells at the time of the riot.

An investigation into the incident has begun, and Phalen said his office will review surveillance footage from the cell block to identify the cause of the riot and its instigators.

"We've had some problematic prisoners that are difficult prisoners to deal with," Phalen said. "We anticipate criminal charges including arson, rioting and property destruction against a number of prisoners."

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