Inmates at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna, Delaware took control of a building and held correctional officers hostage earlier this week. As of this morning, one of the corrections officers has died in the skirmish.
Business Insider reports that details coming out of the situation have been scarce, but noted that the incident began at around 10:30AM on Wednesday. Officers are largely declining to comment on the situation. "Once this matter is resolved safely, then that will be the time to talk," said Robert Coupe, head of Delaware's safety and homeland security department.
All of Delaware's state prisons were put on lockdown shortly after the situation began. Fox Baltimore said that at one point on Wednesday, firefighters had been called to the scene after smoke was seen coming from one of the buildings.
Inmates called a local news station to discuss the motivation for their drastic measures: "Improper sentencing orders. Status sheets being wrong. Oppression towards the inmates," said a voice over The News Journal, explaining that these were the objections being made by the prisoners. "We’re trying to explain the reasons for doing what we’re doing ... Donald Trump. Everything that he did. All the things that he’s doing now. We know the institution is going to change for the worse. We got demands that you need to pay attention to, that you need to listen to and you need to let them know. Education, we want education first and foremost. We want a rehabilitation program that works for everybody. We want the money to be allocated so we can know exactly what is going on in the prison, the budget."
This afternoon it was reported that police had stormed the building — effectively ending the riot — and found one of the hostages dead. Police were unable to report a motive or who (or how many) were involved in the death. “We lost one of our family members, and it pains my heart to make these statements,” said Perry Phelps, the state’s correction commissioner.
“They just got to the point where they’re fed up,” said a former inmate at the facility. “If DOC is worried about the officers and not their demands, if nothing changes, I guarantee there will be another hostage situation in a different building.”
A thorough investigation into the situation will follow, according to police.
[Photo: Wikimedia Commons]