2 injured during riot at prison

  • This Friday, June 17, 2016, photo, shows the guard tower at the New Hampshire state prison in Concord, N.H. Despite added security methods, prison officials say they are seeing more drugs being smuggled into the state's prisons. (AP Photo/Jim Cole) Jim Cole

  • The former warden tower office and hanging area at the New Hampshire State Prison in Concord. The tower is where the warden had an office in 1939 when Howard Long was put to death in lower area. GEOFF FORESTER

Monitor staff
Published: 8/25/2020 3:02:32 PM

A group of inmates lit small fires while others attempted to flood a unit of the New Hampshire State Prison for Men in Concord this past weekend.

One inmate and one employee suffered minor injuries in the disturbance, which began Saturday afternoon within the Close Custody Unit, the New Hampshire Department of Corrections said in a statement Monday evening. That unit provides the second-highest degree of supervision and control of inmates, who are subject to extensive lock-down time with few opportunities for movement.

The department said inmates in the unit initially refused to return to their cells Saturday after lunch. While everyone did eventually go back to the unit, a small group of inmates escalated the situation by lighting fires and trying to flood the area.

Members of the corrections department’s Special Emergency Response Team responded and removed certain inmates who continued to defy orders. The incident was contained to the one unit at the Concord prison, which remains in a relative state of lockdown, and did not require assistance from outside agencies.

The department said its investigation is ongoing and that the inmates’ motives are unknown at this time.

Saturday’s unrest prompted criticism from the State Employee’s Association, which said that it underscored the problems caused by staffing shortages and employee pay in the state corrections’ system.

The SEA had heard about the disruption Saturday from one of its members and has been following the events, said Rich Gulla, the union president.

Gulla said the situation was also a reflection of a recent pattern of overcrowding at the prison.

“This is obviously something – the overcrowding there – that we’ve been bringing to the state’s attention for quite some time,” Gulla said. “And also the pay discrepancies at corrections and their inability to hire and retain.”

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