The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


December 25, 2011

Penitentiary tries to curb inmate fights

LEWISBURG -- A federal lawsuit claims that the staff at the U.S. Penitentiary in Lewisburg disregards inmate safety concerns when making cell assignments, even while locking up prisoners in pairs 23 hours a day.

Warden Bryan Bledsoe disputes the allegations, saying that staff members take great care while juggling cell assignments, particularly when dealing with a population that is comprised of inmates who have demonstrated that they may be prone to violence or unwilling to abide by prison rules.

Tensions between inmates can be driven by gang affiliation or personal feuds. The federal Bureau of Prisons keeps files of known gang affiliations.

Prison officials say that there are 46 criminal gangs -- including biker gangs, street gangs and racist gangs -- represented at Lewisburg, and 38 percent of the 1,429 inmates are known gang members. With two inmates in most cells, that means roughly every other cell in the facility houses at least one gang member.

In addition to gang affiliations, regional conflicts frequently come into play. A gang member from the West Coast may have problems with East Coast members of the same gang, Bledsoe said.

While the bureau keeps files of known affiliation, because tensions can be so fluid, and the population of the prison changes constantly, inmates are told to alert staff if they encounter another inmate they believe will a source of conflict, Bledsoe said.

For instance, when inmates go to their recreation cages, if they see an inmate they are feuding with, they are told to return to their cells and then inform staff about the problem, he said.

Attorneys from the Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project in Philadelphia filed the lawsuit on behalf of inmate Sebastian Richardson, 46, against several federal officials and corrections officers, including Thomas R. Kane, the acting director of the Bureau of Prisons, and Bledsoe.

The warden said that he could not comment specifically on Richardson's claims. But prior to the lawsuit, the inmate's concerns would have been considered through internal administrative hearings. An inmate who has exhausted all administrative appeals can then file a federal lawsuit.

Text Only
  • rundown25zope.jpg Blighted block going bye-bye in Atlas

    Nearly an entire township block in Atlas will be torn down in Mount Carmel Township, utilizing funds from Northumberland County and its Housing Authority in an effort to fight blight. Half of this block is proposed to be developed as low-income senior living units.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • eyebrows.jpg Coming Sunday: Browsing for brows

    As makeup sales soar, four tips to make your eyebrows raise others'. Coming Sunday

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • 1WEATHER.jpg Deadly storm his Virginia campground

    A fierce storm packing powerful winds and rain toppled trees and flipped campers Thursday at a Virginia campground this morning, killing at least two people and sending at least 20 more to hospitals, officials said.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Official: Air Algerie flight ’probably crashed’

    An Air Algerie flight carrying 116 people from Burkina Faso to Algeria’s capital disappeared from radar early Thursday over northern Mali and “probably crashed,” according to the plane’s owner and government officials in France and Burkina Faso.

    July 24, 2014

  • 1gaza25.jpg Israeli fire hits UN facility in Gaza, killing 15

    Israeli tank shells hit a compound housing a U.N. school in the northern Gaza Strip on Thursday, killing at least 15 people and wounding dozens who were seeking shelter from fierce clashes on the streets outside.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • 1execution.jpg How Arizona, Ohio, Oklahoma, executions went awry

    Since the start of the year, executions in Ohio, Oklahoma and Arizona have gone awry, with inmates gasping for breath as lethal drugs coursed through their bodies.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Today's Editorial: One more job appears at risk

    July 24, 2014

  • Rabbi Conflict in Israel grounds Sunbury rabbi

    TEL AVIV, Israel — While the Israelis and Hamas traded rocket and missile strikes for a 16th day, Rabbi Nina Mandel is struggling to find her way back to Sunbury after the FAA on Wednesday announced that it would extend its ban on travel at Ben-Gurion International Airport for another 24 hours.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Fatal24 Danville woman dies as logging truck crushes car in Valley Township

    DANVILLE — An 84-year-old Danville woman was killed when her car and a logging truck collided Wednesday afternoon at Routes 642 and 54 in Valley Township.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Docs: Fractures helped save rock victim's life

    DANVILLE — Sharon Budd’s condition is progressing nearly a week after a 13 1/2-hour procedure in which a team of surgeons rebuilt her facial bones and removed a damaged part of her brain, said two Geisinger Health System physicians who are part of that team

    July 24, 2014

The Daily Marquee

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.