Michigan prison admits losing control amid inmate rebellion

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Officials at an Upper Peninsula prison have admitted to temporarily losing control of the facility to an inmate rebellion, the Michigan Department of Corrections now says after previously denying any such incident.

The corrections department previously said no riot happened in September at the Kinross Correctional Facility in Chippewa County. But the recently released incident report shows prison officials referring to the event as a “riot” and admitting to having lost control of the prison for an unspecified amount of time, the Detroit News reported.

Michigan prison spokesman Chris Gautz inmates destroyed about $900,000 worth of state property after corrections director Heidi Washington authorized squads of armed officers to round up leaders of a protest in the prison yard. The report said about 150 to 200 prisoners in the yard were circling and chanting “no justice, no peace,” as officials urged them to leave and started blaring sirens when they refused.

Gautz denied that prison officials lost control of the entire facility, but acknowledged they lost control of some housing units while inmates destroyed windows, barricaded doors and started a fire in one unit.

“It’s a very scary thing to see hundreds of prisoners moving as one body when, already in a prison setting, you are very outnumbered,” he said. “You can’t allow a scenario for prisoners to move as one and act as one voice.”

The report said hundreds of inmates surrounded the prison “control center” after refusing to return to their units.

Michigan prisoners had a list of demands in September, including better pay for kitchen workers, a faster commutation period and better food.

The report said “No ERT (Emergency Response Team) members used any force against any prisoners other than restraint and escort and deployment of chemical agents.”

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