Inmate assaults visitors at federal prison

(Photo/Todd Ehlers, Flickr)
(Photo/Todd Ehlers, Flickr)
Two visitors were assaulted by an inmate at a federal prison in Florence on Sunday, adding to a dramatic surge in violent attacks that have plagued the prison since April.

The Bureau of Prisons, the federal agency in charge of the high-security United States Penitentiary — a violent lockup in southern Colorado that has recently seen three inmates killed in less than four months — has confirmed that during a social visit on Sunday an inmate assaulted two of his visitors, sending them to the hospital.

Here is a statement from the bureau:

On Sunday, an inmate became aggressive during a social visit at the USP and assaulted his visitors. Staff quickly subdued the inmate. The inmate visitors were evaluated at a local hospital where they were treated and released. There are no staff injuries reported at this time and an investigation into the incident continues.

While the prison has remained on lockdown status since an inmate killed another inmate in August, social visits were reinstated on Nov. 1. Generally a lockdown restricts inmates from leaving their cells and visiting family members.

“It was some type of paper, folded or rolled real tight with a blade in the end of it,” said one correctional officer knowledgeable about the situation. The officer claimed that inmate had tried to stab his wife and mother-in-law. “He managed to cut his wife’s neck and then tried to cut up the mother a little bit.”

The bureau has not confirmed such details but claims a investigation is pending.

“The inmates, they’re younger and more aggressive,” said the guard. “More violence-prone inmates, that’s what we’re seeing.”

In April, two inmates were killed by guard gun fire after a massive 200-person riot broke out on the prison’s recreation yard. The yard is now being segregated into smaller areas.

For more information on the surge in violent attacks in the federal prison system, see The Colorado Independent’s More reports of violence point to ailing federal prison system.

Erin Rosa was born in Spain and raised in Colorado Springs. She is a freelance writer currently living in Denver. Rosa's work has been featured in a variety of news outlets including the Huffington Post, Democracy Now!, and the Rocky Mountain Chronicle, an alternative-weekly in Northern Colorado where she worked as a columnist covering the state legislature. Rosa has received awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for her reporting on lobbying and woman's health issues. She was also tapped with a rare honorable mention award by the Newspaper Guild-CWA's David S. Barr Award in 2008--only the second such honor conferred in its nine-year history--for her investigative series covering the federal government's Supermax prison in the state. Rosa covers the labor community, corrections, immigration and government transparency matters. She can be reached at erosa@www.coloradoindependent.com.

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