Philipsburg

Some Houtzdale prison staff released from hospital

The search and investigation of the incident at Houtzdale state prison is underway as some of the facility’s injured staff are being released from the hospital.

Five security personnel were injured in an incident in the prison yard Tuesday in what the Department of Corrections said began as a fight between two inmates.

One person remains hospitalized and another was still in the hospital as of Wednesday morning but was expected to be released at any time and could have already been, Pennsylvania Department of Corrections spokeswoman Susan Bensinger said. The three others were treated and released, she said.

The facility suffered minimal property damage as a result of the incident, Bensinger said.

In the meantime, a search of the facility and an investigation of the cause are being conducted, with the search alone expected to last up to a week, Bensinger said. The facility will remain on lockdown until the search is completed.

Corrections Emergency Response Teams from Rockview, Benner and Huntingdon state prisons were dispatched to Houtzdale on Tuesday, but they will be sent home to rest, Bensigner said. Additional fresh personnel from other correctional facilities will be sent to Clearfield County to assist staff at Houtzdale in the search, she said.

“We practice for these types of unfortunate situations,” Bensinger said.

Rockview state prison was on lockdown through the night, but resumed normal operations about 7 a.m. Wednesday, Rockview spokesman Jeff Rackovan said.

The facility was already under lockdown for afternoon counts when they heard of the incident at Houtzdale and decided to remain that way as a precaution, Rackovan said.

The incident “was at a neighboring facility and it was good security practice to do that,” Rackovan said.

The decision to remain locked down was not a response to personnel being deployed from Rockview to Houtzdale and there are times they could send personnel to other facilities and not have to lock down, he said.

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