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February 2, 2017

One corrections officer dead as Delaware prison riot comes to end

As reported here, the "day-long hostage standoff inside Delaware’s largest state prison for men ended early Thursday after state police stormed the building, finding one corrections official dead and rescuing another who was being held hostage." Here is more:

The standoff began Wednesday at around 10:30 a.m. when inmates at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna, about 40 miles south of Wilmington, took four corrections department workers — and possibly some fellow prisoners — hostage inside one of the facility’s buildings.

Prisons across the state were locked down due to the standoff there. Dozens of inmates were released in Smyrna as the situation progressed, along with two corrections officials who were being held, the Department of Correction said in a statement overnight. It was not immediately clear how many of the inmates held in the seized prison block were hostages as opposed to hostage-takers.

The Delaware State Police entered the building shortly after 5 a.m. Thursday, according to the corrections department. A Department of Correction employee who was being held was “safely rescued and is being examined at a local hospital,” where she is alert and talking, the agency said in a statement.

Police found the remaining hostage, a corrections officer who was not immediately identified, unresponsive when they entered, and he was pronounced dead at 5:29 a.m. Authorities said they would release more information later Thursday at a news conference.

Gov. John Carney (D), in a statement Thursday, said “I’m praying hard for the fallen officer’s family.”

“This serves as a tragic reminder that members of law enforcement risk their lives every day on behalf of the people of Delaware,” he said. “We will stand by the fallen officer’s family and fellow law enforcement officers during what is an extremely difficult time.” Carney said officials were now focusing on trying to learn “what happened and how this happened,” and vowed to “make whatever changes are necessary to ensure nothing like it ever happens again.”

The hostage-takers had said their rebellion was a direct response to President Trump’s policies. “Everything that he did. All the things that he’s doing now,” they said during the second of two manifesto-like phone calls to a local newspaper. “We know that the institution is going to change for the worse.”

The inmates demanded education “first and foremost,” a “rehabilitation program that works for everybody” and a comprehensive look at the prison’s budget and spending, according to audio of the calls posted online by the News Journal in Wilmington, Del.

The Vaughn prison is the largest adult male correctional facility in the state, housing about 2,500 minimum, medium and maximum security inmates, according to the Department of Correction website. It is the landing place for people who have not yet been convicted of a crime and those who have been sentenced to death. Executions are carried out there, according to the website, although the death penalty in Delaware has been struck down by the state’s Supreme Court.

Inmate complaints about treatment within the prison, substandard medical care and poor record-keeping have increased in the past year, Stephen Hampton, an attorney from Dover who has represented prisoners in civil rights cases, told the Associated Press.

February 2, 2017 at 09:00 AM | Permalink


Delaware is nuts in its left wing extremism, and love of the criminal. This death is 100% the fault of the lawyer that kept the convicts alive, protecting, privileging, and empowering these ultra-violent predators. If you like this riot, thank the Delaware lawyer.

Posted by: David Behar | Feb 2, 2017 9:12:10 AM

Governor Carney should resign, since he is cause of this death, by coddling the criminals.

Posted by: David Behar | Feb 2, 2017 9:13:38 AM

This is very interesting. Part of me wants to condemn these prisoners for the savagery (although the details are not clear). Another part of me thinks their concerns are very very serious and worthy of demonstration. To simply shun them as "killers" or "murderers" is a serious injustice. Its like shunning Bin Laden for being a "terrorist" without looking at his manifesto or his declarations of war in order to understand all of the political disparities he was fed up with. Of course, ultimately the way in which he wanted to create change was terrible, barbaric and cruel. But it still stands that reforms need to be made. The lack of access to health care and the lack of rehabilitative programs in prisons are unacceptable. Hours of solidarity confinement do not help. Will president trump invest in our prisons? Hell no, he will most likely overcrowd them if anything. The reality is, these inmates are right, things are going to get worse. We ought to listen.

Posted by: Ali Najaf | Feb 2, 2017 9:42:37 AM

Ali. For best public safety, all should have been executed as soon after age 14 as the public could stomach. Their violent crime meter began spinning at supersonic speed from age 3.

In the future, CRISPRcas9 technology will fix their defects, in them and in their offspring. Until that time comes, death is the best remedy to repeat violent crime.

The students here will live to see that treatment in commercial operation. Prof. Berman might. The old people here will not.

Posted by: David Behar | Feb 2, 2017 11:08:13 AM

David Behar, respectfully you don't know anything about Delaware law or institutions. Delaware has one of the more stringent truth in sentencing laws, requiring people to serve 100% of their sentence unless they complete specific rehabilitation programs (and, even then, requiring them to serve the overwhelming majority of the sentence). They've abolished parole. They were one of the three states that left the Judge the decision on whether to impose the death penalty and allowed that decision on non-unanimous recommendations. They did this specifically because they were concerned that Delaware citizens wouldn't vote for the death penalty otherwise.

All this has led to massive overcrowding and terrible conditions (full disclosure, I've been inside James T. Vaughn, but I've not toured the facility so I can't comment specifically on the conditions there). However, Gander Hill north of Wilmington is bad. There's another where mentally ill inmates are housed without air conditioning (so they have to constantly monitor the temperature because they're concerned the medication combined with heat would cause permanent brain damage).

This isn't to excuse what happened in the slightest. But it is to say that this situation might have been avoided if they had addressed the terrible conditions. I did note that one of their demands was greater access to rehabilitation programs. It seems like they wanted access to the programs they'd be required to complete to get a discount on their sentence.

Posted by: Erik M | Feb 2, 2017 11:37:48 AM

The third comment is appreciated but maybe not the Bin Laden citation.

Prisons are savage institutions. At some point, the inmates are going to rebel. It's basic human nature at some point. The response is at some point going to be savage on some level. Our penal system in the future very well might be seen as horribly inhumane, like some think of past systems. I respect those who manage to survive, both as prisoners and guards/other personnel. This book (the inmate was helped by two conservatives) gives a hint of life inside: http://www.deathonholdbook.com/

Posted by: Joe | Feb 2, 2017 5:07:37 PM

David Behar, disrespectfully you don't know anything about Delaware law or institutions so F--- off.

Posted by: Pat | Feb 2, 2017 7:13:05 PM

Ding ding ding ding--Joe sets the record for most trite post ever on SL & P.

Posted by: federalist | Feb 2, 2017 10:28:48 PM

Seems rather arbitrary. But, I thank the Academy ....

Posted by: Joe | Feb 2, 2017 10:37:38 PM

I am impressed that the prisoners used Democratic Party talking points to justify their acts. They know that they are the clients and not the prisoners of the all Demoratic Party administration of Delaware. That explains the extreme coddling, protection, privileging, and empowerment of the criminals.

The current criminal coddling administration will not enforce its own laws. These Democratic Party rioters know they are protected. From Title 11 of Delaware Code

(e) Aggravating circumstances.
—(1) In order for a sentence of death to be imposed, the jury, unanimously, or the judge where applicable, must find that the evidence established beyond a reasonable doubt the existence of at least 1 of the following aggravating circumstances which shall apply with
equal force to accomplices convicted of such murder:

c. The murder was committed against any law-enforcement officer, corrections employee, firefighter, paramedic, emergency medical technician, fire marshal or fire police officer while such victim was engaged in the performance of official duties.

The above citations support a per se death penalty for all the rioters. I anticipate the rioters will lose privileges, perhaps get some time tacked on, to generate more worthless government make work jobs.

The correct remedy is to summarily execute all 120 participants. Even if the prisoner were a mere bystander, he had a duty to try to stop the rioters. It should have been done at the scene. Bring in a Gatling gun and eliminate the rioters on the spot. To deter.


The problem? Prisoners are clients of the other commentators, thus must be protected to preserve the jobs of the commentators and of those like them. Each should disclose their job functions, so we may discount their credibility by the amount of their economic conflict of interest. I can start that off. My comments are 100% against my economic self interest, thus have the greatest credibility possible.

Posted by: David Behar | Feb 2, 2017 10:41:29 PM

Erik M. This is from 2016. A gift from Delaware Democratic Party legislature to the habitual violent offender, the three time convicted violent offender.


Posted by: David Behar | Feb 2, 2017 10:48:42 PM

It would be appropriate to have a visit to the home of the Democratic Party female operative mentioned in the article, by a direct action group supporting corrections officers. To deter.

Posted by: David Behar | Feb 2, 2017 10:58:06 PM

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