Oklahoma prison riot quelled, dozens hurt

Steve Olafson

OKLAHOMA CITY (Reuters) - Inmates from California held in a private prison in western Oklahoma rioted on Tuesday in a melee that injured dozens of prisoners, some of them critically, authorities said. Fights broke out in several parts of the North Fork Correctional Facility in Sayre, Oklahoma, shortly before noon, authorities said. The company that owns the prison said 46 inmates had been hurt, including 16 who were sent to hospitals. By evening, guards were securing the last portions of the facility, Beckham County Sheriff Scott Jay said. "When we arrived we had lots of people fighting and lots of injuries," Jay said. Mike Machak, spokesman for Capital Corporation of America, the Tennessee-based company that owns the prison, said the company had brought guards from other facilities in the region to help. Sayre police, county deputies and state highway patrol officers stayed outside the prison while guards quelled the violence, Jay said. He added it was too early to say the cause of the violence. Some critically injured inmates were flown by helicopter to Oklahoma City hospitals, about 130 miles away. Other prisoners were taken by ambulance to hospitals in Sayre and nearby Elk City. No prison personnel were hurt. The private company contracts with the California prison system to keep inmates in the 2,400-bed medium-security prison. (Editing by Greg McCune and Cynthia Johnston)