The damage assessment could take several days and a probe into what prompted Friday night's melee will likely start later in the week, Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet spokeswoman Jennifer Brislin said.
"This is not a quick thing," Brislin said. "They continue to assess the entire situation."
Kentucky's prison chief says the focus is on assessing damage after the weekend disturbance that rocked Northpoint. Justice and Public Safety Secretary J. Michael Brown praised the professionalism of the prison staff and officers for quelling the disturbance. Brown said now that order has been restored, the effort turns to assessing damage from fires set by inmates.
Prisoners started some of the fires in trash cans, and flames eventually spread, shooting into the air during the riot. Several buildings were seriously damaged at the medium-security facility about 30 miles south of Lexington and 5 miles north of Danville in Boyle County.
Subdued after tear gas used
Officers in riot gear rushed in with tear gas, and all the inmates were subdued within two hours, authorities said. They were kept in the prison yard and authorities surrounded the facility so no one could escape.
Eight inmates were taken to the hospital and eight prison workers were injured and helped at the scene.
Four inmates remained hospitalized Sunday, but two were released to the Department of Corrections later in the day, Brislin said. The two inmates who remained hospitalized in stable condition had complained of chest pains, Brislin said.
Cheryl Million, public information officer for the Kentucky Department of Corrections, said some inmates had access to matches because smoking is allowed in parts of the prison.
The union representing employees at the prison — the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Kentucky — said in a release Saturday that the disturbance could have been worse. The union said the prison lacked essential equipment such as working radios and flexible handcuffs.
Necessary equipment was available
Mendalyn Cochran, public information officer at Northpoint, disputed that the prison was not equipped to deal with the approximately 1,100 inmates that had to be detained.
"We had the needed radios and handcuffs to respond to the situation appropriately," Cochran said. "Some inmates had to be recuffed, but we were able to get what we needed from other facilities. We never had any problems that we were not able to handle."
Brislin said investigators will interview inmates and review security videos to see what caused the riot. "They haven't even started interviews yet," Brislin said.
About 500 inmates remained at the prison. The others were taken to facilities across the state. Brislin said the Special Occurrence Response Team at the prison remains active and security staff is working 12-hour shifts.
The remaining inmates at the prison were being housed in a 196-bed dorm that was not severely damaged, the prison chapel, gym and a unit of 60 single cells, said Cochran. Another 40 minimum-security inmates were being housed on the grounds outside the main fence, Cochran said.
Cochran said Monday morning that all employees would continue to report to work as usual. "We have resumed normal operations as much as possible," Cochran said. "All our employees still have jobs. It is obviously a different situation, but we are working together."
The melee came two weeks after more than 1,000 inmates rioted at the California Institution for Men in Southern California.
That prison was designed to hold about half as many inmates, although investigators say they don't know if crowding helped spark the racially charged riot.
Northpoint opened in 1983 and has a staff of 285.
Associated Press Writers Jeffrey MacMurray and Janet Cappiello Blake, along with Advocate Staff Writer David Brock, contributed to this report.