25 years later, new guards get reminder of Camp Hill riots

Written by Ben Allen and Radio Pennsylvania | Oct 27, 2014 1:25 PM

Photo by AP Photo/Paul Vathis

A Pennsylvania State Police helicopter hovers over the grounds of the state prison in Camp Hill, Oct. 25, 1989, as riots took place.

(Camp Hill) -- Today marks the 25th anniversary of the end of the Camp Hill prison riots, and the state Department of Corrections' training for new guards includes some lessons learned from the uprising.

138 correctional staff and 70 inmates were injured in the riots lasting three days in 1989 at the Camp Hill state prison in Cumberland County.

State troopers stormed the facility 25 years ago to regain control of the complex and put an end to the mayhem.

Department of Corrections Spokeswoman Susan McNaughton, who worked in the agency’s press office in 1989, says each new prison guard learns about the riots.

"Will it happen again? We can't say that it won't. But we are certainly working to prevent it from ever escalating to that level," she says.

The DOC has since changed some of the building designs to prevent large gatherings.

"But it's only going to be in a small area and it's not going to get as big as it was at Camp Hill. And that's something that we took into account when we were building our new prisons. All of our prisons, pretty much the design and operation of our prisons, is based on what we learned from the riot," says McNaugton.

14 buildings were also destroyed during the 1989 riots.

It was later concluded overcrowding played a major factor in the violence.

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