28 Marion County Jail II inmates hurt during power outage; sheriff says injuries were caused by people falling and fighting

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INDIANAPOLIS — A power outage Monday morning at the Marion County Jail II in downtown Indianapolis left 28 inmates injured.

Marion County Sheriff Kerry J. Forestal said in a Monday afternoon press conference that 11 inmates went to the hospital and 17 inmates were treated on site by Core Civic personnel. None of the inmates were reported to be in critical condition. They said some inmates fell in the dark, and others were hurt by fighting in the darkness.

Sheriff Forestal released an updated timeline of the incident on Monday afternoon.  According to the Sheriff, power at the jail went out at 2:56 a.m.

IPL spokesperson Brandi Davis-Handy said the outage was caused by ice that had formed in a conduit that was holding several wires together on an IPL pole near the jail.

“That frozen water is heavy and it can pull at the lines, subsequently causing an outage,” Davis-Handy said.  “I would not say that it’s a frequent occurrence, but definitely something we see when you’ve got cold temperatures like the ones that we’ve experienced in the last two weeks.”

When the power went out, Forestal said the Core Civic backup generator at the jail failed to turn on.  Core Civic maintenance was contacted about the problem at 2:58 a.m.  Marion County Sheriffs Department Contract Monitor Larry Logsdon was notified about the outage at 3:15 a.m.

At 3:45 a.m., IPL was notified about the outage and repair crews were dispatched.

As IPL crews worked to restore power to the building, maintenance workers continued to work on the backup generator.  Forestal said the generator was eventually repaired at 4:04 a.m.  However, power from the generator was intermittent and the lights continued to go on and off until IPL restored power to the jail at 4:33 a.m.

The chain of events resulted in the entire jail being without power for more than an hour, then intermittent power for about a half hour.

A statement from Core Civic said the generator at the jail had been tested as recently as Friday.  Forestal said it was still unclear why the generator failed during the outage.

“We don’t have that information, that’s still ongoing,” the Sheriff said.  “We understand there was a faulty switch in the generator.  I’m not the technical person for that.  We’ll wait for CoreCivic to say.”

Eight inmates were transported to the hospital for minor injuries, but none are believed to be critical or life-threatening. Three other inmates were treated by the jail’s medical staff for less serious injuries.

“Some broken bones we believe occurred during a fall when they were moving around in the dark,” said Forestal. “Some soft tissue injuries we believe occurred because of fighting amongst some inmates themselves.”

No weapons were found during a search of the jail.

The city says all inmates have been accounted for.

The Marion County Jail II is operated by CoreCivic. The company released this statement following the incident:

We are extremely grateful for the assistance that the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and the MCSO provided during this incident. CoreCivic facility staff are cooperating fully with the investigation being conducted by the MCSO.

The Marion County Sheriff’s Office will investigate the incident.

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