Ore. inmates behind brawls may have to pay costs of pepper spray, damages
Some of the 115 prisoners involved in fistfights at the state penitentiary early last month are likely to be billed for damages and wasted supplies
By Bryan Denson
SALEM, Ore. — Some of the 115 prisoners involved in fistfights at the state penitentiary early last month are likely to be billed for damages and wasted supplies, including $816 for pepper spray used to break up the brawls.
The fights, which commenced in the Salem prison’s dining room and later spread to housing units during the long July Fourth weekend, put the combatants in a disciplinary housing unit known as the hole.
State regulations allow prison officials to seize all but $30 a month from inmates’ trust accounts to reimburse the Oregon Department of Corrections for their transgressions. The prison accounts, known as prisoners’ “books,” allow them to purchase commissary items such as stationery, sunglasses and shower shoes.
A damage estimate from the fights, obtained by The Oregonian, shows that prisoners might be on the hook for $24,554.70 — an amount that does not include nearly 718 hours of overtime run up by corrections officers and other staffers.
“It’s certainly a preliminary estimate of the damages,” confirmed Elizabeth Craig, a corrections spokeswoman. “But the exact amount of money the inmates (will reimburse) is yet to be determined.”
Some of the estimated costs include 4,752.96 for new inmate uniforms and shoes; $8,071.46 for mattresses and linens; and $10,913.58 for food, supplies and overtime hours worked by kitchen staffers.
Prisoners also might be on the hook for the 53 canisters of Sabre Pepper Spray used to break up their fights. The company’s slogan is, “Making Grown Men Cry Since 1975!”
A series of hearings are underway to determine which prisoners will pay the costs of the disturbances, Craig said.
The Oregon State Penitentiary, the state’s only maximum-security prison, has stood in Salem since the 1860s.
Copyright 2014 The Oregonian