The stories from the inmates trapped inside the county detention center after the explosion are very different from the images Director of Corrections Gordon Pike wanted the media to believe yesterday.
We have heard from inmates and their attorneys that the explosion knocked the prisoners out of their beds late Wednesday night. The correction officers shouted for them to get dressed and then the guards “disappeared.” On the third floor, one inmate stopped a corrections officer before he locked in him and begged him to let them get out of the building.
The prisoners on the third floor went down the stairwell. When they passed the second floor, they asked the guard to unlock the door because of the shouting coming from that floor, but the guard said he didn’t have the authority to do it. The third floor prisoners eventually climbed through a hole in whole to get out of the detention center.
Once out they were unguarded for quite some time, according to one attorney. The inmates could hear people on the second floor screaming to let out.
Stories about a gas leak persist despite County PIO Bill Pearson that the county had no reports of such. One inmate worker said that he had smelled gas for weeks but had been told not to talk about it or he would lose his worker privileges. Inmates have reported feeling nauseous and light-headed.
The words most often used to describe how the inmates felt are “abandoned,” “trapped,” and “confused.”