Authorities are addressing the aftermath of a jail riot Friday night involving 39 inmates in the Crawford County Detention Center.
The inmates, all sentenced under the Arkansas Department of Corrections, caused an estimated $15,000-$20,000 in damage to the inside of their jail pod after personnel removed an inmate from the pod after 7 p.m. The damage included a broken sprinkler head that flooded the entire jail, said Crawford County Sheriff Ron Brown.
Officials on Saturday investigated the incident and dealt with the remainder of the cleanup. The 39 inmates who rioted were in lockdown Saturday afternoon, Brown said.
The riot included the most inmates and damage of any incident since the facility opened in December 2016, Brown said.
"There will likely be some disciplinary action against those who were involved," Brown said, adding that charges will likely be filed in connection with the incident.
Brown, who was notified of the riot around 7:30 p.m. Friday, said a sheriff's sergeant and a jail deputy experienced some resistance and interference from some of the other inmates as they removed the inmate from the pod. He said the pod has an open setup similar to a barracks.
"The other 39 inmates, once they were able to get out, just started basically tearing up the pod, anything from the ceiling tiles to the lights," Brown said.
Officers from multiple law enforcement agencies including Arkansas State and Highway police and Van Buren, Mountainburg and Kibler police responded to the incident. No serious injuries were reported among the inmates or jail personnel, Brown said.
Despite the damage the inmates caused during the riot, the incident was resolved peacefully once the officers arrived on scene, said Mountainburg Police Chief Vincent Clamser.
"When they got enough officers there, they announced that they were going in, and from what my officers tell me, as soon as they entered the pod, the inmates gave up," Clamser said. "There was really no reason to use any force to control the situation."
The 39 inmates were placed under lockdown after the riot was resolved, Brown said. Clamser said his officers stayed on scene and helped move the inmates out of the pod.
Brown said the jail staff and first responders addressed the situation "extremely well." He said the broken sprinkler was the only hangup they had.
"The sprinkler system sucks," Brown said. "We spend all this money to get good sprinkler heads and they say they can’t be broken — well, these inmates proved them wrong, and here we are today."
Brown said clogged drains that didn't work as intended caused much of the flooding Friday. He said they asked a plumber to come and look at the drains Monday.
Nonetheless, most of the flooding was cleaned up by Saturday afternoon, he said.
"This is just tax dollars being wasted," Brown said of the incident.
Brown on Saturday declined to comment on the incident itself, except that it is under investigation. He said it would likely be late Monday before officials get anything resolved.
"It pretty much looks like every inmate was involved, but there is a process, and we’ll have to do that," Brown said.