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July 16, 2018

Delaware to demolish prison building where deadly riot occurred

Criminal Justice Prisons
Vaughn Building C Delaware trconrad2001/Creative Commons

Aerial view of James T Vaughn Correctional Center in New Castle County, Delaware.

The site of a tense prison riot that left one Delaware correctional officer dead last year will be demolished as the state works to implement recommendations from a forthcoming review of the incident, officials said Monday.

Department of Corrections officials revealed it will begin knocking down Building C of the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna, New Castle County, this fall. The facility held about 100 inmates at the time of the February 2017 uprising, when prisoners took control of the building and held five correctional officers hostage during the standoff.

Several of the hostages were released during the course of negotiations. The inmates were protesting what they called unfair conditions at the building. When the confrontation ended, authorities found 16-year veteran Lt. Stephen Floyd had been killed by the inmates.

“Department of Correction officers and supervisors who went to work on Feb. 1, 2017, or assisted in the response, have been reminded on a daily basis of the horrifying actions that happened on that day,” Delaware Gov. John Carney said in a statement. “The building is a constant reminder of the senseless, brutal murder of one DOC’s dedicated public servants – Lieutenant Floyd. To remove the building from the complex will aid in mental and emotional health of officers who work at JTVCC every day. It’s the right thing to do.”

Constructed in 1971, Building C was an original piece of the Level V correctional facility, holding up to 135 medium-security inmates. The building has been vacant since the uprising.

“Demolishing the building will serve as a point forward in the healing process and enable the staff at JTVCC to become stronger and stronger as each new day passes," said DOC Commissioner Perry Phelps.

State officials released an independent review of the riot last summer, offering specific recommendations in areas ranging from officer training and technology to inmate health, employee relations, programming and leadership. The review found that Floyd had been denied a request to relocate several inmates who presented a security threat in the days leading up to the riot.

Findings from the report are scheduled to be presented Tuesday as state officials look to take concrete steps to move forward from the incident.


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