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Warden, officer stabbed in prison riot

Posted at 7:17 PM, Mar 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-12 19:17:58-05

Inmates at an Alabama prison stabbed their warden and a correctional officer, started a fire in a hallway and posted pictures of the mayhem on social media during a riot, authorities said.

The unrest at the William C. Holman Correctional Facility was over by Saturday morning, and the injuries to warden Carter Davenport and the officer are not believed to be life-threatening, Alabama Department of Corrections spokesman Bob Horton said in a news release.

The violence began Friday around 9:15 p.m., when the officer responded to a fight between inmates in one of the prison’s dorms. The officer was stabbed when he tried to detain one of the fighting inmates, Horton said.

When Davenport and other officers entered the dorm, Davenport was stabbed, Horton said.

Horton didn’t say what weapon was used. Davenport was treated for his injuries at the prison, located about 45 miles northeast of Mobile. The officer was treated at a medical facility elsewhere, the corrections department said.

Details about their injuries weren’t immediately available.

Fire on a ledge

After the stabbings, “inmates gained access to a hallway just outside the housing unit and started a fire,” the news release says.

Inmates were able to publish photos of the disturbance on social media, the department said.

A video posted to Facebook early Saturday appears to show a small fire on a window ledge in the facility. The 48-second video starts in what appears to be the dorm, showing more than a dozen inmates in white prison outfits.

The footage eventually moves to a hallway, where someone using a stick-like item to poke at something that is on fire on the ledge. CNN hasn’t verified the video.

Officers from emergency response teams eventually detained inmates and stopped the riot, the news release said.

Horton didn’t say how the inmates posted images of the riot. The state prohibits inmates from having social networking accounts, and it is a felony for inmates to “possess a cell phone, wireless communication device or computer,” the department says on its website.

“Corrections officers … are conducting a complete search of the prison for illegal cell phones and other contraband,” the news release said.

100 inmates suspected to be involved

About 100 inmates are believed to have been involved in the riot, Horton said. Those involved have been segregated from the prison’s general population, and criminal charges are expected to be filed.

The prison is one of three that holds death row inmates in Alabama. The facility currently has 157 inmates awaiting execution.

Holman Correctional Facility had 991 total prisoners — including death row inmates — at the end of December, which is over its designed capacity of 637, the corrections department said in a recent report.

Gov. Robert Bentley said that he was thankful that there were no major injuries in the riot.

“Our DOC team did a good job getting the prison under control,” he said on Twitter.

The governor said that prisons are overcrowded, and that “poor design makes them a major safety concern.”

“These riots & other issues in the prison system will continue if the problem isn’t addressed. I have a plan & encourage the Leg. to pass it,” he said on Twitter.

In February, Bentley proposed spending $800 million on prison construction.

“We have made significant progress over the last year to improve our criminal justice system, and with the construction of four new and modern prisons, Alabama is poised to be a national leader in safe and effective incarceration of inmates,” the governor said. Each new men’s facility will 3,500 prisoners, a draft of the legislation says. A 1,200-bed women’s facility would be built. Obsolete facilities will be torn down.

CNN affiliate WSFA reported that 14 prisons will close and the state is counting on huge savings from reductions in operating and employee expenses.

According to the Department of Corrections monthly statistical report for December, Alabama’s facilities were at 182.3% of capacity.

The legislation has not yet been voted on.