Mo. prison employees claim admin was warned of riot, did nothing

Some employees at the prison said they knew the riot was coming but the administration didn’t do anything about it

By Corrections1 Staff

CAMERON, Mo. — Authorities are investigating a riot that occurred at a Missouri prison, which some employees said they knew was coming but the administration didn’t do anything to stop it.

On Saturday, 209 inmates at the Crossroads Correctional Center refused to return to their housing units after dinner, the Associated Press reports. Karen Pojmann, spokeswoman for the Missouri Department of Corrections, said food and other objects were thrown before order was restored on Sunday morning.

Pojmann said inmates were frustrated about the new restrictions on outside food and that recreation time was being limited due to staff shortages.

No staff members were injured during the disturbance, Pojmann said. Some inmates were treated for scrapes and bruises.

Several employees at the prison said they knew an uprising was coming, but the administration didn’t do anything to stop it despite being warned, according to WDAF-TV

“So I had been approached on several occasions by inmates with information saying, 'Hey, this might happen,'” one corrections officer, who didn’t want to be identified, said.

The DOC downplayed that it was warned that a “disturbance” was coming, which outraged the officer, who said the public should know that really happened.

“Their failure to acknowledge that directly resulted in this major riot incident that put the lives of my friends, my brothers and my sisters at risk,” the officer said. “And it hurts me.”

Another anonymous employee, who holds a managerial position, told KSHB that he also heard from inmates that a disturbance was going to happen. He said he took it to the managers above him, but it didn’t stop the riot from happening.

"I was angry. I was very upset that it had been allowed to get to this point. But in no way, shape or form was I surprised," the employee said.

The employee said the inmates caused “extensive damage” and were allowed access to the warehouse of the prison, where they used “the machinery in there to cause even more mayhem and destruction.”

The employee said COs and staff withdrew and locked themselves in other areas for safety. He added that they were lucky no staff members were hurt, and that a staffing shortage was one of the factors that led to the incident.

"We are running with numbers that are critically dangerous and we've been doing so for far too long," the employee said. 

High turnover rates, poor supervision, low pay and inexperienced staff are some of the other contributing factors that led to the riot, the employee said. He said COs often have to work 12 to 16-hour shifts and are called on their days off to cover.

The DOC has acknowledged the staffing shortages and plans to address the issue. The department also said Monday that the damage from the riot is more extensive than they initially thought.

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