Department of Corrections and Community Supervision

New York State
Department of Correctional Services
Glenn S. Goord, Commissioner

Office of Public Information
[518] 457-8182

For immediate release:

Tuesday June 13, 2000

Auburn Correctional Facility locked down for facility-wide search

Commissioner Glenn S. Goord today ordered the lockdown of Auburn Correctional Facility so staff could conduct a comprehensive facility-wide frisk for weapons and other contraband, following two apparently unrelated incidents in three days during which tower officers had to fire warning shots to break up inmate fights in the prison yard.

The lockdown was preceded by a fight at 4:45 p.m. on Monday between two groups of about 10 inmates each which occurred in the south recreation yard. There were approximately 200 inmates from A, B and E blocks in the yard at the time of the incident. The inmates fighting amongst themselves refused repeated verbal orders from staff to stop fighting and lay on the ground. As approximately 70 other inmates began moving toward the foray, a Correction Officer in a yard tower fired five rounds from his AR-15 into a designated safe area. The inmates then ceased fighting and laid on the ground before being frisked and escorted out of the yard by staff. No weapons were found.

Several inmates sustained minor injuries in the incident, none of which required hospitalization. There were no injuries to staff. The cause of the disturbance is under investigation.

The Monday incident was preceded by a Saturday night fight involving approximately 15 inmates in the main recreation yard. There were about 300 inmates from C and D blocks in the yard at the time of that incident. As staff responded to the incident, other inmates began converging on the fight scene. An Officer stationed in a yard tower fired one round from his AR-15 into a designated safe area. All inmates then ceased fighting and dropped to the ground before being frisked and escorted out of the yard by staff. Staff found a box cutter on one of the inmates involved in the disturbance and also recovered two can lids from the yard.

One inmate suffered a dislocated shoulder in the altercation. He was transported via state vehicle to Auburn Hospital for treatment and later was returned to the facility. Several other inmates sustained minor injuries, none of which required hospitalization. One Correction Officer sustained an abrasion when he was struck by an inmate. The Officer remained on duty.

The cause of the Saturday night disturbance also is under investigation. The Department's preliminary review has revealed that the two incidents are not believed to be related, as they involved different groups of inmates housed in different cell blocks.

"To ensure the safety of staff and others, I have ordered the lockdown of Auburn so that staff can conduct a comprehensive facility-wide search for weapons and other contraband," said Commissioner Goord. "I will not tolerate any assault on staff or others by any inmate at any time. Those inmates who chose to assault staff and others can be assured that they will face swift and severe disciplinary sanctions at the facility levels and, where applicable, criminal charges as well."

The investigation into the two incidents is being conducted by the Department's Inspector General's Office and the Division of State Police.

 The lockdown is expected to last until at least Saturday. It means that inmates will be confined to their cells while staff search individual cells and common areas for weapons and other contraband. Inmates still can be escorted from their cells by Correction Officers for visits and necessary medical appointments.

Auburn, a maximum-security prison located in Cayuga County, opened in 1817. It currently houses 1,777 of the 71,320 inmates in the state prison system.

The last lockdown at Auburn was from March 26-30.