Inmates charged in Vaughn prison riot transferred


SMYRNA — Inmates indicted for the deadly Feb. 1 prison uprising at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center were transferred to other prisons and have been separated since charges were announced, according to VINELink, the state’s inmate locator platform.

Delaware’s Department of Correction (DOC) confirmed Monday that of 18 inmates charged, nine have been moved to Howard R. Young Correctional Institution in Wilmington. The remaining nine have been moved to Sussex Correctional Institution in Georgetown.

DOC declined to comment about reasons for the transfers.

“As a matter of policy, we do not comment on operations or the circumstances behind the movement of an inmate,” said DOC spokeswoman Jayme Gravell.

Earliler this month sixteen inmates were charged with murder in the death of Lt. Steven Floyd during the riot at the Vaughn prison near Smyrna.

Two more were charged with counts of kidnapping, conspiracy and rioting.

The day the charges were announced, Vaughn prison was locked down during the arrest and indictment process for security purposes, noted the DOC. The lockdown was lifted later that afternoon.

Inmates Dwayne Staats, Kevin Berry, Deric Forney, Robert Hernandez, Janiis Mathis, Obadiah Miller, Corey Smith and Alejandro Rodriguez-Ortiz were moved to Howard R. Young Correctional Institution.

Inmates Jarreau Ayers, Abednego Baynes, John Bramble, Luis Sierra, Kelly Gibbs, Lawrence Michaels, Jonatan Rodriguez and Roman Shankaras were moved to Sussex Correctional Institution.

Pedro Chairez and Royal Downs, the only inmates in the group not charged with murder, were moved to Sussex Correctional Institution and Howard R. Young respectively.

Ms. Gravell noted the inmates still have access to certain privileges.

“The offenders indicted have been placed in accordance with their classification and reviews shall occur as established by the classification schedule,” Ms. Gravell said. “These offenders will continue to have access to medical service, phone calls, mail, commissary and recreation as set forth in policy.”

The indictment, being described as “unprecedented in its scope” by Delaware’s lead public defense attorney, is expected to demand “hundreds, if not thousands of hours” worth of legal representation and pile up significant costs.

In addition to attorneys’ fees set at $90 per hour, the State of Delaware will pay for other defense needs such as investigators and forensic experts, among other costs and rates to be determined.

“These expenses add up,” Public Defender’s Office Chief Brendan O’Neill said. “They are paid with public funds.”

Mr. O’Neill said his office has started the process of providing lawyers for the inmates.

“Under our system of justice each of these persons is presumed innocent and the lawyers in the Office of Defense Services will do their utmost to protect the constitutional rights of their clients,” he said.

According to Mr. O’Neill, “there is no case in recent memory” that included so many first-degree murder charges in a single indictment.

In September, Gov. John Carney ordered independent review of the conditions that led to the riot and noted that Lt. Floyd had requested the transfer of “over five” inmates from C-Building — the site of the uprising — a mere 11 days before it happened.

The authors of the report, former Family Court Judge William Chapman, Jr. and former U.S. Attorney Charles Oberly III, said if Lt. Floyd’s request had “been taken more seriously and carried out, the incident and the resulting death may not have occurred.”

Lawyers representing Lt. Floyd’s estate have declined to comment on whether any of the indicted inmates were named in the transfer request.

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