New Castle Correctional Facility
New Castle Correctional Facility is a 3,200-bed privately run (but state-owned) prison located in New Castle, Indiana. It opened in 2002. In September 2005, the state signed a contract with the for-profit GEO Group, Inc. of Boca Raton, Florida, to run the prison, the only prison in the state with this status. The facility is rated as minimum-to-medium security, but also has a maximum-security psychiatric unit and annex.
Riot of April 24, 2007
On Tuesday April 24, 2007 about noon, a disturbance in the prison dining hall occurred. A little after 2:00 p.m., the local New Castle police department responded en masse, as did forces from the Henry County Fire Department and Sheriff's Department. Sheriff's Deputies from adjacent Delaware County, along with elements of the Indiana State Police also responded.
Reportedly, it started with a cluster of Arizona prisoners transported there against their will consequent to a memorandum of understanding with the State of Arizona and GEO Group. They refused to wear state-issued smocks over T-shirts as a display of non-compliance during the midday meal. This is when Captain Deaton stepped in and tried to handcuff several offenders and was severely beaten by three inmates.
These prisoners were reportedly picked for being non-violent and generally getting along with the rules; it is suggested the Arizona convicts felt they were, in effect, being punished for obeying the rules, and had they been less compliant back in Arizona, they would have remained there. An earlier deal with California fell through when that state was unable to come up with enough non-violent prisoners willing to volunteer for the transfer; the Arizona convicts were transferred on a non-voluntary basis.
This is not the first time Arizona transportees have been involved in prison disturbances in other states.
Two news helicopters from regional NBC and CBS affiliates provided live images carried on MSNBC and Fox News. Piles of burning debris and smoke plumes were evident, reportedly mattresses, combustible furniture and garbage.
Within two hours, full order and authority was restored, though some inmates continued to be audibly angry for some time afterwards. Shortly after 3:30 p.m., J. David Donahue, the Commissioner of the Indiana Department of Corrections at that time reported that conditions were returning to normal.
Two correctional officers were reported to have received very slight injuries. Seven prisoners were treated for minor injuries at the prison.
While excesses were performed, this was probably not really a prison riot in the classic sense, in that no one was hurt. It may qualify as an act of true civil disobedience. To date, GEO Group has not made any public comment.
The state suspended the transfer of additional Arizona inmates pending an investigation. Governor Mitch Daniels said the transportees directly involved in the disturbance would be returned to Arizona.
The DOC moved 69 Arizona transportees to the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility, where they were placed in segregation the night of the riot.
A month after the riot, a "post event analysis" was released by the Indiana Department of Corrections. While placing blame on the Arizona transportees, the report admits failings on the Indiana corrections side as well, mainly understaffing and poorly trained personnel, but also very vague rules about what the Arizona prisoners were expected to do. This report states:
At the time of this writing the Indiana State Police indicated that criminal charges would be recommended against one Indiana offender and 25 offenders from Arizona. Aggregate recommended charges include Rioting, Battery, Unauthorized Possession of Weapons, Intimidation, Theft, Criminal Mischief, Criminal Confinement, and Battery by Bodily Waste.
- Post event analysis by Indiana DOC (*.pdf), Retrieved 24 May 2007
- Indianapolis Star article, 24 May 2007
- Indiana DOC press release
- Fort Wayne News-Sentinel DEAD LINK
- Indiana State Police response (WTHR/MSNBC)
- CNN story
- Geo Group Inc
- MSNBC.com story
- PCI (anti-private corrections site)
- "New Castle Correctional Facility". The GEO Group, Inc. Retrieved 18 March 2013.
- "9 hurt in New Castle prison riot". Indianapolis Star. 24 April 2007. Retrieved 18 March 2013.
- Rondle Anderson, Regional Director, Indiana Department of Correction (23 May 2007). Post Event Analysis of the New Castle Correctional Facility Disturbance on April 24, 2007 (pdf). Retrieved 18 March 2013.