Nearly 30 inmates were injured in falls or fights after a power outage plunged a privately operated jail in Indianapolis into darkness and a backup generator failed to kick on, officials said.
Marion County Jail II, operated by private contractor CoreCivic, experienced a power outage and simultaneous back-up generator failure just before 3 a.m. Monday, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office said.
Police and sheriff’s deputies established a perimeter around the jail, but the office said there was no security breach. Sheriff Kerry Forestal said that while radios and surveillance cameras, along with all interior lighting, were out during the outage, inmates remained locked in their dorm, where fights broke out.
CoreCivic said 28 inmates were treated for injuries — 11 transported to a hospital and 17 treated by jail medical staff. Earlier Monday, officials had reported that the number of injured was 11 total.
The sheriff’s office initially reported that power was out at the jail for only 10 minutes, but Forestal said during a Monday afternoon news conference that it’s believed the outage lasted an hour and 37 minutes.
Indianapolis Power & Light said its crews responded to an emergency call from the sheriff’s office about the power loss after “frozen water on a conduit pulled wires on an IPL pole and caused the outage.”
As the crews were making repairs “the jail’s backup generator initially failed causing it to turn on and off several times, which interrupted power at the jail,” utility spokeswoman Brandi Davis-Handy said in a statement.
Forestal said the jail’s generator is checked weekly, but a switch was dirty and needed cleaning.
The sheriff said 1,226 inmates were inside the jail, which is on the eastern edge of downtown Indianapolis. CoreCivic has a contract to house up to 1,233 adult male inmates.
Unlike the Marion County Jail, which is in the middle of downtown Indianapolis and run by the sheriff’s office, the Marion County Jail II does not house women or juveniles, a spokeswoman said.