Inmates lit trashcans on fire, refused to return to dorms during incident at Pender Correctional Wednesday night

Updated: Oct. 8, 2020 at 10:32 AM EDT
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BURGAW, N.C. (WECT) - Several inmates at Pender Correctional Institution are accused of setting small fires at the prison during an incident Wednesday evening.

According to a spokesperson for the N.C. Department of Public Safety, offenders in three housing units at the prison set a series of small trashcan fires over a five-hour span beginning at 6:30 p.m. The inmates then refused to return to their dorms after the fires were extinguished and the smoke had cleared.

“The Prisons Emergency Response Team used less-than-lethal force to prevent the incident from escalating and to encourage the offenders to return to their dorms,” the spokesperson stated.

The incident concluded around midnight, according to the spokesperson.

Seven inmates who were identified as the “ringleaders” were transferred to a close-custody facility and placed in medical quarantine.

No staff members at the prison were injured and only minor injuries were reported among the inmates.

Initial rumors described the incident as a riot, however, the NCDPS spokesperson insisted this wasn’t true and offered the following definition of a riot by the American Correctional Association: a riot occurs when a significant number of inmates control a significant portion of the facility for a significant period of time.

Similarly, an “incident” is defined as “one or a few inmates are involved and there is no control of any portion of the facility for any period of time by an inmate.”

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