Riot at Spring Creek: 9 hours of hell



Spring Creek Correctional Center is where the meanest and most violent prisoners typically go to live out the rest of their lives. It has over 400 inmates, many of them hard-core felons, doing time for rape and murder.

Last night’s 9-hour prison riot involved over 50 of those inmates, a reminder of just how dangerous they are, in spite of the “Restorative Justice Initiative” that has been part of the prison’s program over the past year, bringing things like yoga, a running club, and classes on morals and ethics to the prison population.

These are, in fact, some of the prisoners who would likely be shipped out of state to cheaper maximum security prisons in the Lower 48, as part of Gov. Michael Dunleavy’s cost-saving measures for his Fiscal Year 2020 budget. Since the lifers aren’t coming back into society, there’s no real reason to keep them in-state, when out-of-state is more cost effective.

Many of the rioters are members of gangs with names like 1488’s, Caucasian Kings, Family Over Everything, USOs and Native Brotherhood. But Corrections officials don’t characterize the Tuesday night riot as gang-related, nor have officials said whether the rioters were the lifers or the ones only serving three-to-10 years.

Riots in prisons are not uncommon. In January, 2018, some 43 inmates briefly rioted at Spring Creek, but the incident only lasted three minutes. That one was said to be gang related. Before that, a riot at the Fairbanks Correctional Center in August  of 2017 involved 15 inmates, some broken windows and spilling of soap and water on the floors.

This week’s riot occurred in the Hotel Mod unit, and was started when prisoners barricaded themselves into a section of the prison as a protest against the 8 am wakeup call. What is unusual is the length of the riot and the numbers of inmates involved.

About $100,000 in damage was reported by officials, who say no prisoners or staff were harmed during the riot, but fire suppressant systems, cameras, plumbing, computer lines, and interior glass were all damaged.

To regain control, prison officials used non-lethal force, including restraints, less lethal munitions, as well as non-lethal chemical agents.

Sarah Gallagher, spokeswoman for the department, said prisoners involved in the incident are subject to the internal disciplinary process as well as criminal prosecution though the Alaska State Troopers.

“Those offenders involved have been placed in a more restrictive housing environment. No charges have been filed at this time as DOC is still conducting the investigation,” she said.

The prison is located approximately 125 miles south of Anchorage on 328 acres of land that is surrounded by national parks. It was built in 1988 at a cost of $44.7 million and houses hard-core felons, but also prisoners who have been convicted of assault or burglary and who are serving sentences between three and 10 years.


  1. Unless something has drastically changed recently, there are two Native Brotherhood groups in Alaska’s prisons. One is an official state sanctioned group with a state charter and everything. They sponsor “Talking Circle”, potlatches, help with transportation costs for family that can’t afford the cost of flying in from remote villages, and etc.
    The other one is the miscreant minority who use the Native Brotherhood name to inflate their perceived power, to intimidate. They give a black eye to everyone.
    The real Native Brotherhood charter say’s that they can’t discriminate because of race, and have to allow anyone to become an official member, even non Natives.
    Therein is the root of the confusion which all the media falls into.

    • A little research confirms your statement about the two groups and only one ligit. Feel like this would have really added to this storey.

  2. Time to reopen asylums for the mentally ill who are a danger to themselves and/or others. Our prisons really can’t function for those folks who need to be committed in order to protected themselves and society. Also, those who work in prisons shouldn’t be exposed to these individuals

    • Thats true Anne, but the people involved in this riot may not be mentally ill at all. From the article, they didn’t like their wake up time. Some of these people, if evaluated for mental health treatment, you’d likely find ineligible because they would be deemed pschopaths…and mental health programs/substance abuse programs don’t like trying to fix pschopathic individuals.

  3. Well heck…if they rioted over an 8 a.m. wake-up call, give them the basic-training schedule. 4 a.m. wake up, straight to PT, ten minutes for a shower, then chow at 6 a.m…..and you only get 15 minutes to finish your breakfast. Then put them to work…hard, physical labor. 15 minutes to eat a baloney sandwich and drink 16 oz. of water, then back to work.

  4. ““Those offenders involved have been placed in a more restrictive housing environment.”

    The hole is usually too full, so they’re probably on unit lock-down, and staff are getting big overtime hours. Bring their meals to them. 2-man escort for showers.
    Since there usually isn’t food slots built into general population cell doors, simply serving food may take several guards to safely open each cell to hand them a tray. A labor intensive situation.

  5. “Since the lifers aren’t coming back into society, there’s no real reason to keep them in-state, when out-of-state is more cost effective.”

    Their families have a right to reasonable visitation. Out of state placement puts an unreasonable hardship on the families.

    The state isn’t in the habit and practice of picking up that tab.

    • I think that’s part of his plot…maybe getting many families who can, to find a way to pack up, and leave state.

Comments are closed.