The deputy informed the inmates — Bobbie Lee Hagen, 29; Samuel Lee Harold, 33; and John Hicks, 27 — that other areas had more inmates, according to court records. They asked to speak to a sergeant. The deputy said he would call for one as soon as the inmates complied with the orders given. They begin to yell and refused to go into their cells until a commanding officer arrived, according to court records.
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Once a commanding officer arrived on scene, deputies alleged the inmates still refused to comply with orders.
“They blocked the food chutes and put some trash cans in front of the door, knowing that pepper spray would be used to gain compliance,” Young said.
This incident may have been planned, he said. One inmate had plastic wrap saved from a previous meal and towels covering his face before officers entered the pod so he would be unaffected by pepper spray, court records say.
Deputies eventually were able to enter the unit through a fire door, used pepper spray and got the inmates back into their cells, according to court records.
There were 213 inmates, 170 males and 43 females, in the Clark County Jail as of 7 a.m. Wednesday. The jail usually has less than 200 inmates, Young said, but can house a maximum of 220.
The pods — former shipping containers that were modified to house about 50 inmates — had been beneath the jail for about 12 years.
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They were brought in as a temporary place for juvenile inmates when that detention center was undergoing construction, he said, but as the jail population grew, nonviolent inmates were moved there. They were closed recently due to safety concerns, especially the public’s ability to possibly interact with inmates separated by a fence.
The sheriff’s office also is working with the Clark County Prosecutor’s Office to possibly change the charges to disorderly conduct, Young said. It’s considered a riot when at least four people are involved.
The men will remain in jail and will be continued to be charged with aggravated riot until their cases are evaluated by a Clark County Grand Jury, he said.
A Champaign County resident, Kathy Hess said conditions inside the jail could be better.
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“It is overcrowded,” she said. “A lot of people sleep on the floor due to not having enough mats, where they are literally just on the floor.”
Hess stayed in the trailers a few years ago before they were closed and she was waiting in the lobby of the Clark County Jail on Wednesday afternoon for her husband. He spent the night in jail for failure to pay a fine, she said.
“With no mat, I’m guessing a blanket but no mat or nothing,” Hess said.
BY THE NUMBERS
213 : Total inmates in the Clark County jail as of Wednesday morning
220: Maximum number of inmates the Clark County Jail can hold currently
170: Male inmates in the Clark County Jail as of Wednesday morning
43: Female inmates in the Clark County Jail as of Wednesday morning
The Springfield News-Sun digs into important public safety issues in Clark and Champaign counties, including recent stories on the drug epidemic and school safety changes after a shooting at West Liberty-Salem High School.