BOSTON – A former inmate tells CBS Boston that last month’s prison riot at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Facility was sparked by guards telling inmates they couldn’t use the showers.
An inmate who asked to be called “Anthony,” told the station that before the riot two men from different cell blocks got into a fist fight as they passed each other going in and out of the exercise yard. When the yard time was over, officers decided to lock the men in without allowing them to take showers.
“Everyone got riled up and it hits a natural boiling point,” Anthony said.
According to Anthony, that boiling point led to a standoff with inmates refusing to be locked into their cells and widespread rioting, something he says could have been avoided if corrections officers had simply let the men shower.
“You are getting a 15 minute shower and everyone would have been peaceful and happy and it would have just been another day in prison,” he said.
Anthony, who was due to be released in a matter of days, said he stayed in his cell and watched the unrest unfold. “I had a really good vantage point,” he said. “I got a whole view of it; my food slot was open at the time. I sat there on my knees, watching.”
The 28-year-old was coming to the end of nine years in prison for armed robberies.
Anthony said inmates were not fighting each other and didn’t arm themselves for war, as an official had previously said. Anthony called their behavior civil disobedience.
“People were reacting out of passion,” he said.
Anthony watched from his cell as corrections officers took back control of the prison.
“I’ve never seen this show of force,” he said. “Bean bag guns, rubber bullet guns, laser beams right on you.”
When it was over, Anthony says the corrections officers got revenge, destroying everything the inmates had in their cells.
A Massachusetts Department of Correction spokesperson told Crimesider that after the first fight the inmates had been promised showers, but that a second fight broke out and officials made the decision to lock the inmates in.
An investigation is still ongoing, but so far correction officials say there has been no indication of officer misconduct and no officers have been disciplined.
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