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Libby Prison Escape

Posted by admin  /   October 07, 2013  /   Posted in Prisoner Defiance  /   Comments Off

Libby Prison was a Confederate operated prisoner-of-war camp during the American Civil War. It had previously been a commercial building, but after reviewing its construction, guards considered the building inescapable and converted it into a prison. Like many camps, it was notorious for harsh conditions and overcrowding, and close to a thousand prisoners lacked food or proper medical care. The basement of the building was so destroyed by flooding and an extreme rat infestation that it was abandoned by prison staff.

In February of 1864 several men grouped together and began plotting their escape. Because of the perceived difficulty of escaping from the grounds, they decided to take advantage of the vacated basement. Eventually they discovered a chimney on the first floor which could give them access to the basement, and soon recruited more inmates to help them dig a tunnel out. The men worked in shifts, with each team enduring the dark, cold conditions while surrounded by hundreds of rats. After more than two weeks of digging with knives and other small tools, the men resurfaced in a lot adjacent to the prison. After securing the tunnel, they waited until nighttime before sneaking officers out in small groups. More than a hundred men had escaped through the tunnel before the guards began their morning patrols. Several of the remaining prisoners replaced the opening into the basement to conceal the tunnel for as long as possible.

The escapees weren’t discovered missing until later the next afternoon, when the Confederate staff tried to call roll. This gave the first of the jail-breakers nearly a day to cover ground. More than half of the prisoners were able to return to friendly territory, but the rest were captured or killed. This escape had a larger effect than just returning officers to their posts, however. Union morale was rejuvenated with such a victory, especially within the inmates who remained at Libby Prison.

Pelican Bay State Prison Hunger Strikes

Posted by admin  /   September 24, 2013  /   Posted in Prisoner Defiance  /   Comments Off

The Pelican Bay State Prison is a supermax facility located in California. Because it was intended to house some of California’s most problematic criminals, solitary confinement is commonly used to separate especially dangerous or destructive prisoners. However, according to allegations, this punishment escalated to the point that many inmates had been placed in solitary confinement for years, with little chance of returning to the general population. Prison officials are accused of rarely reviewing the placement of inmates in solitary, leading one man to be separated for a purported 22 years. In 2011, several dozen inmates began refusing to eat any sort of prison food, while another several hundred inmates boycotted the purchase of food from the prison’s canteen. This strike mostly fizzled out after officials agreed to consider the prisoners’ complaints.

In July of 2013 however, prisoners reestablished their strike, apparently unhappy with the actions taken to resolve these issues. According to Tim Phillips, this hunger strike gained the participation of 29,000 prisoners across the state of California. After weeks of refusing to negotiate, prison officials met with several of the strike leaders, and agreed to implement policies that would limit the criteria that could send a prisoner to solitary confinement, and would also make it easier for prisoners to extricate back into the general prison population. The strike ended with just a few dozen original members participating; regardless, a class action lawsuit has been filed on behalf of some of the prisoners who remain in solitary confinement.

South Carolina Helicopter Escape

Posted by admin  /   September 22, 2013  /   Posted in Prisoner Defiance  /   Comments Off

In late December of 1985, a woman contacted the Palmetto Helicopter Company in order to schedule a recreational helicopter tour. She showed up for her tour a week later, and once airborne, threatened the pilot with a handgun. The two flew 15 miles south and landed on the grounds of a South Carolina penitentiary, where five inmates jumped aboard. However, the helicopter struggled to take off, and a corrections officer attempted to pull some of the men from the helicopter. In the process he was shot in the face and retreated, but the pilot pointed out that they were still carrying too much weight to lift off. Two of the inmates were pushed from the helicopter, and those remaining barely cleared the wall while sustaining heavy fire from prison guards. They landed just a few miles away and entered a silver getaway car, taking the keys to the aircraft with them. After the inmates fled with the woman, the pilot ran to a nearby building and called police.

Hughes 300-C, the same type of helicopter used in the escape

According to the Los Angeles Times, the four suspects were captured just a short time later. The woman, Joyce Bailey, was sentenced to 40 years in prison for air piracy, and the other suspects received even more severe punishments. In 1989 Bailey attempted to sell the story of the escape attempt to be made into a movie. However federal law prevents criminals convicted of serious crimes (including air piracy) from profiting from their exploits, so the money was instead sent to the guard Bailey shot during the escape, who at the time still suffered from his injuries.

Takeover of Southern Ohio Correctional Facility

Posted by admin  /   September 21, 2013  /   Posted in Prisoner Defiance  /   Comments Off


The Southern Ohio Correctional Facility is the primary facility for executions in Ohio. The prison had repeatedly had issues with overcrowding and overly strict guards. By April of 1993, the prisoners decided to take matters into their own hands. Nearly 500 prisoners rose up and took control of the facility for nearly two weeks, taking several guards as hostages, intending to use them to negotiate for improved conditions. When the prisoners’ stipulations weren’t met, some of the leaders discussed killing one of the guards. Before a consensus could be reached, one of the prisoners strangled Corrections Officer Robert Vallandingham. Four inmates were sentenced to death for his murder.

During the takeover, nine other inmates were killed, most of which were known to be informants.

North County Correctional Facility: 2006 Race Riot

Posted by admin  /   September 21, 2013  /   Posted in Prisoner Defiance  /   Comments Off

The North County Correctional Facility is located about 50 miles outside of Los Angeles, California. In February of 2006, a riot occurred primarily between the Hispanic and African American inmates. Several Hispanic and white men were accused of running down and beating other prisoners. Some Mexican gang members carried out orders to drop pieces of furniture over railings several stories up, onto inmates passing beneath them. These actions are suspected to be in retaliation for a stabbing that had occurred several days earlier. An estimated 2,000 inmates participated in the riot and lasted for four hours. Over a hundred inmates were injured in the riot, and one was killed; eight inmates were charged with his murder, which was considered to be a gang-related hate-crime.

James A. Johnston

Posted by admin  /   September 19, 2013  /   Posted in People  /   Comments Off

jamesajohnstonJames A. Johnston was the first prison warden at the Alcatraz Island prison. He served until 1948, and although he was a strict and stern warden, he was generally liked by the inmates. He is also known as one of the first wardens to have shunned the types of corporal punishment that other administrators embraced and implemented. He died in 1954 at the age of 79 from an upper respiratory infection, and was survived by his wife and four children.

Coffee Creek Correctional Facility

Posted by admin  /   April 27, 2011  /   Posted in Facilities  /   No Comments

COFFEE-CREEK-CORRECTIONAL-FACILITY-300x161Coffee Creek Correctional Facility is located in Wilsonville, Oregon. It is an American prison for women that is operated by the Oregon Department of Corrections. Coffee Creek Correctional Facility is a fairly recent prison, opened in 2001. It can house over 1600 female inmates in its campus of 108 acres.

It is a minimum and medium security facility that is widely known for its various programs that aim to teach the inmates different skills they may find useful once they leave prison. Coffee Creek Correctional Facility was built in response to the need to replace the Oregon Women’s Correctional Center that was located in Salem as it only had room for 200 inmates and the population was growing significantly. The construction of this facility started in the first months of 2000 with a budget of over $171 million.

The construction project was considered the top public project in Oregon in 2002 by the Northwest Construction Magazine. It was built by Hoffman Construction Company following the plans designed by DLR Group. New prisoners are classified according to their age, behavior, health and criminal record history once they enter Coffee Creek Correctional Facility.

Oregon State Penitentiary

Posted by admin  /   April 27, 2011  /   Posted in Facilities  /   No Comments

oregon-state-penitentiaryOregon State Penitentiary, also known as OSP, was the first state prison of Oregon. In the mid 1800s it was situated in Portland, but in 1866 it was relocated to Salem, where it was enclosed by a fence made of reinforced concrete wall with an average height of over 7 meters.

Oregon State Penitentiary is also the only maximum security prison in Oregon. Inmates that require the strictest and highest vigilance are housed in special units and there are also units for disciplinary segregation, inmates that suffer from psychiatric problems and for those that have received the death penalty.
Oregon State Penitentiary is a male only facility where inmates are housed in individual cells or, occasionally, with two men in each cell if there is a need to increase the prison’s capacity. From 1964 to the last months of 2010, it had a free-standing minimum security facility that could accommodate almost 200 male inmates who performed different tasks and jobs outside the security fence of the prison.

Camille Griffin Graham Correctional Institution

Posted by admin  /   April 27, 2011  /   Posted in Facilities  /   No Comments

Camille-Griffin-Graham-Correctional-InstitutionCamille Griffin Graham Correctional Institution is a female state prison located in South Carolina. It was inaugurated in the early 1970s as “Women’s Correctional Institution” and in the early 2000s it was renamed, in honor of the first female warden of a maximum security prison for men in South Carolina.

Women on death row, awaiting their execution, are held here.. Camille Griffin Graham Correctional Institution takes part in the program Beyond Bars of the Girl Scouts of the USA that allows Girl Scouts to visit and establish a relationship with their incarcerated mothers. Female inmates can receive literary and high school courses and the state provides medical and dental care. There are also different programs enforced in Camille Griffin Graham Correctional Institution such as Religious Programs, Rehabilitation Services and “Sistercare” for abused and battered women.

Northern Correctional Institution

Posted by admin  /   April 27, 2011  /   Posted in Facilities  /   No Comments

northern-correctional-institutionThe Northern Correctional Institution is a state prison of maximum security located in Somers, Connecticut. Male death row inmates in Connecticut, and those serving long-term sentences for violent crimes are housed in this prison. The facility also supervises prisoners which threaten staff or other inmates.

The building’s construction was finished in January of 1995, and the first inmates arrived in March that same year. Later, the first death row inmates were transferred from Osborn Correctional Institution.