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Univ. of San Diego School of Law

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

More hurt in spring prison riot than originally reported

The April riot that left two inmates dead at the U.S. Penitentiary in Florence lasted nearly a half-hour and injured six times the number of people the Bureau of Prisons announced at the time, according to an incident report obtained by the Rocky Mountain News.

Thirty inmates and a staff member were assaulted in the racially motivated brawl, a report written by a Bureau of Prisons investigator states.

When the riot occurred, prison officials said five people - all inmates - were injured.

They would not say how long the riot lasted.

On Tuesday, Democratic Sen. Ken Salazar sent a letter to Bureau of Prisons Director Harley G. Lappin, urging him to release reports on the riot to the public.

Salazar asked Lappin shortly after the riot for a full briefing once the bureau's investigation is complete, particularly in regard to staffing levels.

"The people of Colorado, especially those in the communities surrounding the USP, deserve the assurance that the BOP is taking the steps necessary to improve security at the facility and prevent terrible incidents like this in the future," Salazar wrote in Tuesday's letter.

BOP spokeswoman Traci Billingsley has said that while some incident reports have been issued to inmates, the riot still is being investigated.

The riot broke out in the recreation yard around noon April 20, after white inmates celebrating Adolf Hitler's birthday made racial comments to black inmates, authorities said. [Mark Godsey]

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