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W. Virginia Inmates Riot, Seize Hostages

January 02, 1986|Associated Press

MOUNDSVILLE, W.Va. — Knife-wielding inmates rioted at the West Virginia Penitentiary on Wednesday, seizing half of the maximum-security prison, holding 13 hostages and demanding to meet with the governor, authorities said.

State troopers in riot gear encircled the overcrowded, 120-year-old prison, and officials made plans to "take back the institution," said Marshall County Sheriff Donald Bordenkircher, a former warden of the penitentiary.

No injuries were reported in the uprising, in which 14 hostages were taken by up to 200 of the 750 inmates at the prison, said Sgt. Larry Henry, a spokesman for the state police.

One hostage, a guard with a history of heart trouble, was released about midnight and taken to a local hospital, where he was listed in good condition, penitentiary spokeswoman Jerrie Clutter said. Thirteen hostages remained captive early today.

"You quit treating us like dogs and this wouldn't happen," one inmate shouted at police beyond the prison wall. "We want better living conditions, better facilities and better medical conditions."

A force of about 100 state troopers and prison guards, many carrying gas masks and riot batons, assembled Wednesday night at a museum across the street.

The inmates called a television station and demanded a meeting with Gov. Arch A. Moore Jr. and Corrections Commissioner A. V. Dodrill to discuss their grievances, said John Domenick of WTRF-TV in Wheeling. They asked that two TV reporters attend the meeting.

Moore refused to talk with inmates until the hostages were freed and all the prisoners were back in their cells, aide Ben Bailey said.

The rioters had control of the main, lower floor of the prison building and were being monitored by a few corrections officers who remained inside the penitentiary at distant locations, Henry said.

The captives included 13 employees and one outside food-service worker, he said.

The riot began when inmates with weapons such as hand-made knives took the hostages. Although officials did not know what triggered the uprising, Bailey said policy changes by the warden had angered some inmates.

In 1983, prison conditions were declared unconstitutional by Circuit Judge Arthur Recht because of overcrowding, and the state Corrections Department is under court order to make improvements.

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