D.C. Department of Corrections officials are investigating charges that 19 corrections officers have been assaulted in recent months by inmates in the maximum security section of Lorton Reformatory.
The report of assaults on officers came to light this week following an incident Monday in which an officer was injured during a scuffle with a prisoner. The inmate complained that he was subsequently assaulted by several officers, officials said.
Officer Lionel Jones was treated at Providence Hospital for facial bruises and released. The inmate, Jeffrey Jackson, was treated at the prison infirmary for a black eye and a four-inch laceration of his forehead, officials sad.
This incident followed a recreation period for about 400 maximum security prisoners. When Jones, acting alone, attempted to clear and lock the exercise yard, Jackson, the only inmate still in the yard, refused to leave, officials said. When the officer insisted, the inmate reportedly as saulted Jones. Jackson said that he was assaulted later by several officers at the prison infirmary, officials said.
About half the 27 officers on the maximum security day shift notified corrections officials Tuesday morning that the officers would carry out their security duties, but would stop other duties until officials agreed to discuss their grievances.
The officers refused to allow the 400 maximum security prisoners out of the cell block for food or medical care. Instead, the inmates were fed and visited by medical technicians in the cell block.
Corrections officials agreed to form a "fact finding" committee to investigate assault cases alleged by the officers.
"There have been 19 assaults here at Lorton over the last four months," said Sgt. Donald Sundquist, a spokesman for the officers. "We think this is a serious manpower problem."
Sundquist said that the institution's current staff of about 1,200 officers should be expanded by 100 to 130 officers to ensure proper security.
Maximum security prisoners, who were released from their cells Tuesday afternoon for a recreational period, refused to return to their cells from about 4 p.m. Tuesday until 11 a.m. yesterday in protest of the alleged assault on Jackson.
A corrections department spokesman said prisoners complained that inmates frequently are assaulted and that the department does not properly reprimand the officers involved.