Eight inmates accused in a $20,000 rampage through the maximum-security tier of the Idaho Correctional Institution in Orofino were housed at the maximum-security prison south of Boise on Friday as authorities continued their investigation into the disturbance.
Some inmates suffered minor cuts or smoke inhalation Thursday, but no one was badly injured in the most serious instance of inmate unrest since the prison opened in the early 1980s, Deputy Warden Dean Allen said.
The 19 other inmates housed in the damaged tier were moved to another close-custody area of the facility that was recently vacated by medium-security prisoners shipped to a private prison in Louisiana. And the entire 300-inmate prison population remained locked down.
Clearwater County Sheriff Nick Albers’ department was leading the investigation into the disturbance, which began about noon Thursday when six inmates tore a television and microwave from the wall of a recreation room. Two others joined them, throwing chairs and smashing windows.
“They began starting fires, set the TV on fire and mattresses and other flammable things,” Correction Department spokesman Mark Carnopis said.
Prison officials declined to release the inmates’ names or the offenses for which they were serving time.
The other 19 inmates on the tier went to their cells and did not participate, Allen said, as the three guards monitoring the tier sealed it off from the rest of the prison and called in the emergency response team.
Guards used tear gas to control the rioting inmates, who were handcuffed and forced to sit on the floor. The prison’s sprinkler system extinguished the fires, Allen said.
“As soon as I heard the canisters of tear gas exploding everything was pretty much quiet,” Allen said.
Other prisoners in the 100-inmate A-Block of Unit 2 were evacuated to an outside yard. Within less than an hour the situation was under control.
Allen said the disturbance posed no threat to anyone outside the prison.
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