George W. Hill Correctional Facility, Thornton, Pennsylvania
September 2, 2019
According to the Daily Times, a guard at George W. Hill Correctional Facility reported a “full-blown riot” at the facility on Monday.
“I’ve been there almost 20 years and it was the worst experience I’ve ever seen in my life working at Delaware County prison,” said another guard. “It was horrible. It was unsafe.”
“Two entire blocks refused to lock in,” the guard stated.
In response to prisoners refusing to lock down, guards entered the block in an effort to show willingness to use force.
Prisoners responded by covering their faces with ripped bed sheets and wielding shoes against the guards. When it became clear the prisoners were not going to comply, the guards retreated and a CERT team was called in to respond to the uprising.
The CERT team was armed with pepper ball guns and reportedly shot over 25 prisoners. Prisoners were also hit with batons.
In total the standoff lasted about an hour.
The uprising reportedly started on a day when the air-conditioning units were not functioning properly in the prison.
A statement from a spokesperson for GEO Group, the private company that operates the facility, stated, “Staff responded to a small group of disruptive inmates that were repeatedly non-compliant,” the spokesperson said. “All policies and procedures were implemented to maintain the safety for the staff and inmates until the issue was resolved.”
An interior report of the incident indicated that a call came in at 3 p.m. Monday saying that two pods had refused to lock in. About 20 officers responded and successfully got one of the pods to lock down. The other pod of approximately 44 inmates refused orders to lock down.
The report indicates the last staff member out of the block dispersed MK-9 pepper spray into the area before exiting. Further attempts to communicate with the inmates in the block were unsuccessful.
There were still 26 inmates refusing to comply when the CERT team entered and used pepper balls in an effort to regain control of the pod. Guards ordered prisoners to lie down on the ground but only half complied, according to the report.
“It just turned into an all-out war,” said one guard who accompanied the CERT team, “They were not going down without a fight. It was unbelievably scary … It was like something you see out of TV.”
The remaining 13 inmates were eventually subdued and handcuffed. A search of the pod’s dayroom later uncovered a makeshift knife, according to the report.
One guard said in a statement,“This was just the beginning. Now they’re prepared. They tested us and now they’re going to do it again, because they know we’re short staffed. I’ve been there long enough and I’ve seen enough to know that will happen. A CO is going to die.”
“Guard says staff put down ‘full-blown riot’ at Delco prison Monday“, Daily Times, September 4, 2016.
Article published: 9/12/19