More Washington State Penitentiary units locked down after fight

On the heels of a major brawl last week, another fight has broken out at the state penitentiary.

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WALLA WALLA -- Two units at Washington State Penitentiary are under lockdown today after a second large fight between inmates.

The units in the West Complex were locked down after the fight broke out Monday at 11:30 a.m. between more than 20 prisoners in the Delta unit dayroom, said Shari Hall, prison spokeswoman. The adjacent facility, Echo unit, was also locked down as a precaution. Each unit holds 187 inmates.

Three corrections officers reported injuries and were being evaluated, Hall said. No serious injuries were reported to any of the inmates. "Just the standard bumps and bruises," she said.

The two units are part of the four close-custody units in the West Complex. Last week Golf and Fox units were locked down after a major fight erupted in Golf unit on Nov. 14 involving more than 50 inmates. Nine corrections officers suffered minor injuries quelling the fight.

Hall said Fox unit was scheduled to come off lockdown today while Golf unit remained on restricted movement.

The cause of the latest fight is unknown and the incident is being investigated.

During a community forum with state legislators last week, corrections officers said the Nov. 14 fight highlighted the dangers they are facing due to staff cuts.

Officers said that before being reinforced, officers in the unit were far outnumbered by the inmates involved in the melee. In addition, the manpower that had to be called in to quell the violence left the rest of the institution at risk.

The West Complex is the newest part of the penitentiary. Construction began in 2005 and inmates started being moved into the new units in mid-2008.

Andy Porter can be reached at andyporter@wwub.com or 526-8318. Check out his blog at blogs.ublabs.org/randomthoughts.

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