Behind the Bars: Violence at the ACI - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather

Behind the Bars: Violence at the ACI

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By: Alexandra Cowley

Everyday, Department of Corrections officers handle Rhode Island's most unstable, unpredictable population.
It's their job, but lately correctional officers say violence has risen, creating more tension than ever.

Behind the ACI prison walls there are on average 890 corrections officers and 32,000 inmates. There are 8 prison facilities separating men from women and segregating the most dangerous from the least.

In recent months, Richard Ferruccio noticed a spike in the number of assaults between inmates and on officers.

"Lately it's almost happening daily at the intake,” said Ferruccio.

As President of the Rhode Island Brotherhood of Correctional officers, he dug deeper, gathering incident numbers.

"The percentage increases have been mind boggling,"
Ferruccio said.

Here’s what Ferruccio found since 2008 bookings from incidents inside the prison have steadily increased from 778 six years ago to 1,602 last year. The population has gone down by nearly 600 inmates, but the violence has gone up. 2014 is on track to surpass those numbers.

"There is a lot of gang activity on the streets of Rhode Island right now and that means larger numbers are coming in," said the Prison's director, A.T. Wall.

Wall acknowledges the uptick in gang members but says violence is always fluctuating.

"The information that we have doesn't suggest that there is a steady increase," said Wall.

According to the prison, there were 44 assaults on officers from July 2012 to June 2013, and 24 since July 2013.

The prison's definition of assault is different than the union's definition.

"Within a minute there can be 5 guys fighting and it can get pretty serious," said Ferruccio

Wall says they are doing everything they can to identify and separate gang members but in a prison, these incidents are inevitable.

"We have an iron clad no refusal policy, whoever is sent to us we have to take in and our job is to manage them,” said Wall.

Ferruccio said, "Many of these kids that are coming in are more violence than we've seen in years, a lot of these kids have no respect for life."

These assaults include razors, fists, and often times throwing of urine and feces.

Director Wall says there is a bill in the general assembly right now that would allow charging and convicting accused inmates of these acts, adding more time to their sentences.

(C) WLNE-TV 2014
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