Officials say that after a power outage plunged a privately-owned jail in Indianapolis into darkness, nearly 30 prisoners were injured in falls or fights as the backup generator failed to kick on.
On Monday, the Sheriff’s Office in Marion County said that just before 3 a.m., Marion County Jail II, run by private contractor CoreCivic, suffered a power outage and concurrent back-up generator failure.
Police and sheriff’s deputies established a perimeter around the jail, but the office said there was no security breach. Although radios and security cameras, along with all interior lighting, were out during the blackout, Sheriff Kerry Forestal said inmates stayed locked in their dorm, where fights broke out.
CoreCivic said 28 prisoners were treated for injuries, 11 were taken to a hospital, and 17 were treated by medical personnel. Officials had announced earlier Monday that the number of injured was 11 in total.
Initially, the sheriff’s office announced that power was out for just 10 minutes at the jail, but Forestal said during a news conference that the outage lasted an hour and 37 minutes.
Indianapolis Power & Light said that after “frozen water on a conduit pulled wires on an IPL pole and caused the outage,” its crews responded to an emergency call from the sheriff’s office about the power failure.
“The jail’s backup generator initially failed, causing it to turn on and off several times, which interrupted power at the jail,” said utility spokeswoman Brandi Davis-Handy in a statement.
The jail’s generator is tested weekly, Forestal said, but the switch was dirty and needed cleaning.
The sheriff said there were 1,226 prisoners inside the facility. CoreCivic has a contract to accommodate up to 1,233 prisoners, all men.
The Marion County Jail II does not hold women or juveniles, a spokeswoman said, unlike the Marion County Jail, located in the center of downtown Indianapolis and operated by the sheriff’s office.