More than 50 inmates at the state’s maximum-security prison in Seward were involved in a riot Tuesday evening, which wasn’t put down until Wednesday morning amid an extensive response by correctional officers.

The 62-prisoner riot at the Spring Creek Correctional Center began at about 9 p.m. Tuesday, according to an Alaska Department of Corrections statement, when inmates within the prison’s Hotel Mod “barricaded the entry to their housing unit and began destroying property.”

DOC spokeswoman Sarah Gallagher said in an email that the inmates barricaded themselves “as a means of protesting waking up at 8 a.m. for cell inspection.” Several prison gangs were represented among the rioting inmates.

“Members from the 1488’s, Caucasian Kings, Family Over Everything, USOs and Native Brotherhood were involved in the incident,” Gallagher wrote. “Although these individuals are gang members, this was not a gang-related activity.”

The facility was immediately placed on lockdown, as correctional officers conducted an inmate count and accounted for all staff and prisoners.

“Special Operation Response Teams from Kenai and Anchorage were deployed and arrived on scene at roughly 3 a.m. [Wednesday],” DOC officials wrote. “Non-lethal force was used to gain compliance of the unit. DOC officers had full containment of H Mod by 6 a.m.”

About 35 DOC officers responded from other facilities to assist Spring Creek staff, Gallagher said. SORT is a response group within the department tasked with responding to riots and other events within prisons.

“SORT teams are made up of designated correctional officers whose members are selected, trained, and equipped to resolve situations such as the one that occurred at Spring Creek,” Gallagher wrote. “The DOC SORT Team program started in 2014, and responds around the state to emergency situations where additional staff are needed beyond the resources available at the institution.”

Nobody was injured during the riot, Gallagher said, but some inmates were "exposed to non-lethal chemical agents." Medical staff assessed and cleared each inmate after the incident.

Gallagher declined to say whether any ringleaders in the riot had been identified, noting that DOC's investigation was still in progress.

The riot caused an estimated $100,000 in damage to cameras, computer lines, fire suppressant systems, interior glass and plumbing, Gallagher said.

The Alaska Correctional Officers Association, a statewide prison union, said in a statement on the riot Wednesday that officers from Wildwood Correctional Center and other institutions assisted with the response.

"Other off-duty officers, upon hearing about the incident, jumped into their cars to rush to the institution on their own to help, which says a lot about the dedication of correctional officers to their fellow officers, and to keeping Alaskans safe," ACOA officials wrote.

A January 2018 riot involving 43 inmates in the prison’s yard, prompted by an altercation which DOC officials said appeared to be gang-related, was put down in minutes by correctional officers using pepper spray. Spring Creek remained on lockdown for some time afterward, to prevent a second riot from taking place.

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