Four guards at Sayre private prison treated and released after melee

Tuesday, July 18th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

SAYRE, Okla. (AP) -- Four guards were treated and released and 19 inmates were placed in segregation after a disturbance broke out in a private prison holding Wisconsin inmates. The North Fork Correctional Center in Sayre was under a lockdown Tuesday as an investigation into Monday afternoon's 20-minute melee continued. Bill Clausius, spokesman for the Wisconsin Department of Corrections, said two contract monitors were being sent to Oklahoma to conduct the department's own investigation.

Clausius said no one sustained serious injuries. In addition to the four taken to hospitals, nine other guards were treated at the scene for everything from bruises to cuts. Corrections Corp. of America, which runs the prison, said no inmates were seriously injured.

The fight broke out on the recreation field about 2:30 p.m. Monday. "An officer observed two inmates passing a bag on the recreation field and when another officer seized the bag, she was tackled by an inmate," said Wisconsin Corrections Secretary Jon E.Litscher. He said other inmates joined in when prison staff went to the officer's aid.

Jason Harris, an emergency medical technician with the Sinor Emergency Medical Service in Sayre, said the prison secured the medical area and EMTs went there to get the injured guards out. He said when they arrived the fight was backing into the holding area. "We saw the SWAT guards getting ready to go in so we knew it was probably going to be a mess," he said.

Ambulances responded from Sayre, Elk City and Clinton. Harris said the Sayre service transported four guards to the Great Plains Regional Medical Center in Elk City. Tear gas was used to break up the disturbance. The 1,448 inmates at the minimum-security prison were under lockdown Tuesday. Clausius said he didn't know what was in the bag that the tw about their role in the disturbance. He said some disciplinary action may be taken.