SCI-Somerset on lockdown after assault of two staff members

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The state prison in Somerset was locked down Thursday and Friday for a prison-wide search in the wake of two assaults on staff, but the lockdown is expected to be lifted today.

SCI-Somerset and the state Department of Corrections would not release details of the attacks.

State police, who along with internal security investigate prison assaults, could not be reached for comment.

One of the attacks happened last week and one this week.

Department of Corrections spokeswoman Susan McNaughton said she could not provide information about how badly the guards were injured or if they had to be hospitalized.

Officials would not provide the names of the officers, the names of the inmates or the nature of the assaults.

They said only that both were isolated incidents involving two separate inmates and occurred in common areas. No charges have been filed.

The lockdown was not an unusual response, Ms. McNaughton said.

Prisons often lock down part of an institution after an assault, and entire prisons also sometimes are locked down and searched after incidents. It happens several times a year across the state.

In addition, officials sweep prisons regularly in search of contraband, during which prisoners are locked in their cells.

As is routine, the prison's correctional emergency response team carried out the search along with teams called in from other prisons, looking for weapons, drugs and any other prohibited items.

Heidi Sroka, the public information officer for the prison, declined to comment on any aspect of the attacks but said visitation and regular operations should resume today.

The medium-security prison houses more than 2,300 inmates and has a staff of 585.

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Torsten Ove: tove@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1510. First Published May 24, 2013 1:00 PM


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