June 22 (UPI) — Seven guards and one inmate were injured in a disturbance at a Florida prison, the Florida Department of Corrections said.
A brawl at the Gulf Correctional Institution annex, 25 miles east of Panama City, started in a dorm on Wednesday morning and spread to several more dorms before it was contained within a half-hour, Michelle Glady, FDOC spokeswoman, told the Miami Herald. She added that those injured were hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries but did not identify them. The facility remained under lockdown for the rest of Wednesday.
An FDOC statement praised the “remarkable courage and bravery” of officers at the annex “as they rapidly brought the situation under control.”
The cause of the brawl was not explained, but sources told the Miami Herald that about 20 people were involved, many of them gang members and some armed Wednesday with sledgehammers.
The incident, which the agency classifies as a “disturbance,” was one of several in Florida prisons in the past two years. State legislators have blamed an inadequate number of corrections officers, and state senators pointed out last year that 17 percent of jobs in northeast Florida’s prisons were vacant. Fewer people are applying for the positions, prompting Gov. Rick Scott to improve corrections officers’ pay scales in a budget he signed last week.