Disturbance at Pendleton Correctional Facility, Indiana

Disturbance at Pendleton Correctional Facility, Indiana

Pendleton Correctional Facility, Madison County, Indiana
April 17, 2020

According to the Indiana Department of Corrections (IDOC), a “disturbance” took place at 10:40 a.m. on April 17 at the Pendleton Correctional Facility involving four prisoners. This account was later confirmed by those incarcerated at the facility.

Many details of the incident remain unclear, but David, R. Bursten, Communications Director for the Indiana Department of Correction, confirmed that a disturbance did happen. According to Bursten, four staff members were treated at the local hospital for non-life threatening injuries and released the same day.

Bursten declined to answer questions regarding the nature of the incident or the motivations of the prisoners as well as the incident’s connection to COVID-19, stating that it is an ongoing investigation.

James Phillips, currently incarcerated at Pendleton, witnessed the disturbance. In a recorded call with an outside supporter on May 15, 2020 he described the lead up to the “riot” and linked it directly to the mismanaged response to the spread of the virus.

We’ve been having a lot of outbreak cases of the COVID-19 within our facility. We don’t know exactly how many cases there are. But we know that there have been incidents, that the inmates have been found to be, they’ve been tested positive for that, or they have been suspected of being positive of COVID-19, so they started quarantining us in the gym, or other inmates in the gym. And when they started doing that, they started actually trying to mix in infected people with people who wasn’t infected, and that caused a riot, and three people got hurt between that. So what they did is now they started quarantining the positive inmates back there in the [unclear] in E building which is in I-complex of Pendleton Correctional Facility. And they’ve been treating those that have tested positive for COVID-19 back there in those two buildings.

Philips also said that 5 COVID-related deaths had at occurred at the facility by the time of the interview on May 15. The full 4-minute interview provided to Perilous is here:

According to the IDOC, the Indiana prisons system has a total of 238 confirmed cases of Covid-19 among prisoners and 101 among staff members. Pendleton Correctional currently has 27 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and zero deaths related to the virus.

If you have any additional information about this incident please contact us.



David R. Bursten, Chief Communications Officer, Indiana Department of Correction, Personal Interview, April 17, 2020.

David Phillips, “Recorded Phone Interview“, provided to Perilous, recorded May 15, 2020.

Article published: 4/22/2020
Article updated: 5/24/2020
Header photo source: The Herald Bulletin