New Castle Prison Riot

Inmates take over New Castle prison.

Live footage here as of 3:40 p.m. today.

Inmates at the New Castle Correctional Facility took over part of the prison and set several fires this afternoon.

. . .

New Castle Mayor Tom Nipp said “a full-scale riot” erupted at about 1:45 p.m.

“Prisoners were trying to tear down some fence,” he told WISH-TV (Channel 8). “I do know that the exterior fence is electrically wired, so I doubt they were trying to tear that down.

“The police department has been fully mobilized. A perimeter has been established on the outside of the facility to assure that if anyone did manage to get over a fence there would still be security. And all due measures will be taken to maintain that security.”

The privately operated prison is outside New Castle’s city limits, but Nipp said the city’s entire police department had been mobilized, along with officers from nearby departments, paramedics and a fire crew.

Nipp said he did not know if the riot was related to the arrival last month of convicts from Arizona who are being housed at the prison.

The New Castle Correctional Facility which went private on January 1, 2006, has been touted by the Daniels administration as proof of its privatization model for correctional facilities. The Daniels Administration began contract negotiations to run the prison with GEO Group, Inc. in August 2005.

In March, the facility took in 1,200 inmates from Arizona which required the addition of 230 new employees. Last year, a similar deal to import inmates from California fell through. Of the California deal, Gov. Daniels said the $6 million value of the contract was “”pure profit,” as the state was to reap in cash but bear no expense in the deal.”

GEO, Inc., the private contractor was formerly known as Wackenhut, a company with a colorful history. With respect to private prisons, it has gotten in trouble in more than one state for its employees having sex with inmates. In Louisiana, the state had to take over a juvenile facility after the Department of Justice accused Wackenhut of subjecting its inmates to excessive abuse and neglect. It has been accused of diverting money for drug treatment programs and of having lax procedures for background checks. More recently, GEO, Inc. was accused of overcharging the state of Florida by $5 million. For a lot of additional accusations, the veracity of which I do not pretend to know, check out the GEO Group Rap Sheet.

Update Advance Indiana has some more recent details. The Governor regards this as a “relatively minor incident” and Arizona had already started putting brakes on the deal to ship its inmates over here because of “security concerns.”


  1. says

    Yet another example of conservatives abandoning their old core beliefs and morphing into something else. Should prisons (or license plates) be a cottage industry for the state? The Daniels Republicans, in their quest to make government more like a business, rush to turn everything into a profit-making venture. This will take on scores of critics just for what it is. I believe it should be criticized for what it isn’t. Why did the state build so much excess prison capacity? Conservatives of the past would have called this waste. Today’s conservatives do not call for the reduction of government or the elimination of excess. They turn it over to corporations to make a profit in a monopoly setting.

    I’m all for profit-making in the private sector, but in my view, as a libertarian, prisons are properly under the authority of government. Then, government’s role in prisons should be limited to the housing of inmates from our own state only, with only marginal excess capacity.

    I’ll look forward to seeing more on this story, especially with regard to the cause of the rioting. I’m going to bet that it had a lot to do with not understanding the differences in procedures between Indiana and Arizona, and in cultural differences- things that should have been investigated and vetted before the transfers took place.

  2. says

    Like I said somewhere else around here recently, business is a good model for a great many things, but not everything. Warehousing humans, in my mind, is one of those things where I don’t think a business model is appropriate. The profit motive probably leads private prison businesses to try to expand prisoner populations and to cut corners when it comes to their care.

  3. says

    Well, yes, but this was the Governor’s profit motive. He saw it as an opportunity for the State to collect a windfall. Your quote about the deal that fell through is particularly insightful.

    But you bring up a very useful thought here: If it is dangerous for a business to want to expand prison populations (because it gets paid per prisoner), how much more frightening is it for a government to want expanded prison populations? After all, the government, not business, writes the laws that create criminals, and thus has the wherewithal to make it so.

  4. Tara says

    Yes I have a few things to say concerning this riot in the prison on tuesday. First of all my ex husband is in that prison and Indiana resident and I know that twice after originally being incarcerated he was moved in the middle of the night no warning no idea where he was going as these prisoners from arizona were, this is normal policy to eliminate the possibility of escape, and yes it was hard but thats the way things are done and I understand those issues. Now I do not agree with the idea of out of staters being mixed in our prisons for this reason. It isn’t Indianas responsibility to cater to inmates from out of state. As far as these inmates being up set by the different policies on things such as smoking, this is my opinion, they broke the law if they were concerned about such things then they should have stayed out of trouble. Way to often these inmates end up coddled and babyed just to end up in prison again.

  5. Haley says

    My issue here is that my grandmother, who is in her upper 70s, lives directly across the road from the prison. She is the first house you come to when pulling out of the place. Yet, everytime someone walks off or escapes, she is not informed. No one is. I understand the need to make money, but running a prison like a business is just wrong. I understand that the Arizona prisoners are upset but I was at my grandmother’s house when the riot broke out. I was playing with my 4 yr. old niece in the yard. That’s something I wish to never see again, have to listen to, have to worry about, or explain to my niece but I know I will because of the way things are there. The safey and well being of my family is at stake and it’s not something that I like the state or Geo taking lightly.


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