Spring Creek prison officer and two inmates hurt in assault

Lisa Demer

An officer at Spring Creek Correctional Center in Seward was attacked by an inmate Wednesday morning and two other inmates then joined in on the assault, Alaska State Troopers reported Thursday.

The officer was able to call for help, according to the state Department of Corrections. He and two inmates were injured and taken to hospitals, troopers said. The instigating inmate was not hurt, however.

The officer was working in an inmate housing area when he was attacked, troopers said. Troopers in Crown Point, near Moose Pass, were alerted around 9:45 a.m.

Troopers are investigating. No one has been charged. The names of the inmates won't be released unless charges are filed, said trooper spokeswoman Megan Peters.

According to the union that represents correctional officers, the assault was planned and coordinated. It's the latest in a series of assaults on officers in Alaska's prisons, according to the Alaska Correctional Officers Association.

"One of the inmates attacked the officer to distract him and then the two other inmates joined in," the union said in a statement. "The three inmates then proceeded to punch and kick the officer. The injured officer had been threatened with physical violence by some of the same inmates just the day before."

The officer suffered black eyes and cuts that needed stitches, and was bruised and battered, the union said. The union didn't name him.

The Department of Corrections hasn't identified the officer or provided information on the extent of his injuries.

He was taken to Providence Seward Medical Center, and Spring Creek Superintendent Craig Turnbull visited him there. He was released Wednesday, the union said.

A rookie officer, Sean Winslow, suffered a broken jaw and concussion in an assault last month at the Anchorage jail, according to the union.

Since then at the Anchorage jail alone, two officers had urine and feces thrown at them, one was physically assaulted, and another had hot water thrown on him, the union said.

Brad Wilson, the union's business manager, said in the statement that assaults are increasing because of staffing cuts, vacancies and a new staffing model that leaves shifts short-handed.

Spring Creek prison alone has more than 30 vacancies, he said.

"Inmates are pushing their bounds more and more and if something is not done, someone is going to be seriously hurt or killed," Wilson said. "It easily could have happened yesterday with this latest assault."

The department did not immediately respond Thursday to questions about safety and security in Alaska prisons.

But in September, the department said the Anchorage jail was not understaffed at the time Winslow was hurt.



Reach Lisa Demer at ldemer@adn.com or 257-4390.



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