Prisoners Rebel in Delaware’s Largest Prison

“Donald Trump. Everything that he did. All the things that he’s doing now.”

February 3, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper |


This week 100 prisoners at a Delaware prison rose up in a rebellion (“rebellion” was the word used by the prisoners themselves). This took place in building “C” of Delaware’s largest adult prison—the Vaughn Correctional Center. The Department of Corrections immediately locked down all the prisons in the state.

The prisoners seized that portion of the prison at 10:30 Wednesday morning, February 1, and held it until 2:30 Thursday morning, when the prison authorities stormed the facility and took back control.

The prisoners were able to speak with the Wilmington News Journal newspaper with the help of people on the outside. When asked what triggered their rebellion, the prisoners answered: “We’re trying to explain the reasons for doing what we’re doing. Donald Trump. Everything that he did. All the things that he’s doing now. We know that the institution is going to change for the worse. We got demands that you need to pay attention to, that you need to listen to and you need to let them know. Education, we want education first and foremost. We want a rehabilitation program that works for everybody. We want the money to be allocated so we can know exactly what is going on in the prison, the budget.”

A former prisoner who had been in the same section of the prison reportedly told the News Journal that the conditions are poor and inmates have limited access to education programs. And because the prison is so overcrowded, prisoners are not transferred to medium-security buildings even when they have earned that right.

The Vaughn prison houses about 2,500, prisoners—from minimum to maximum security, including people sentenced to death. And people who are simply awaiting trial and who cannot afford bail are imprisoned there as well. Those awaiting trial are locked up for much of the day, according to a lawyer who has represented prisoners at Vaughn. These people have no access to gyms or libraries, and there “gets to be a tremendous pressure on these inmates.”

Five people were reported held by the prisoners during the rebellion. Prison authorities report that one of their officers was found dead when they entered the prison. No explanation of the cause of death has been put forward. But the warden told the media that he intends to treat all 100 prisoners as “suspects.”

Heather Ann Thompson, author of Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy, writing in the Jacobin online about the prisoner’s rebellion at Vaughn, made this important statement: “The history of prison rebellions in this country shows we should be very cautious when we have to depend on state officials to tell us what happened, or is still happening, in any penal facility experiencing unrest.”





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