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State penitentiary

The North Dakota State Penitentiary, displayed in a 2012 file photo, is on lockdown following two assaults upon staff members this week.

The North Dakota State Penitentiary remains on lockdown as an investigation continues into the assault of employees during two separate incidents last week.

Few details are available, other than seven Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation employees were evaluated and treated for injuries following last week’s events. The lockdown will remain at least through Tuesday as the investigation continues, said Michelle Linster, spokeswoman for the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

During a lockdown no visitation to prisoners is allowed, either in-person or by video. Linster noted that there are varying levels of lockdown and the penitentiary was in a complete lockdown, but is now transitioning to a lower level permitting inmates more freedom.

“In a complete lockdown there is no out of cell time. Inmates can’t come out for day room use or recreation. They’re doing everything in their cell including eating,” Linster said.

There are numerous reasons for the penitentiary to instigate a lockdown, Linster adds. Serious incidents in the facility or even outside can initiate a complete lockdown. Lockdowns can be initiated when a facility search is done, during staff training or staff shortages.

“If there’s a blizzard and some staff can’t get to work a lockdown might occur because of the staff shortage,” Linster said.

Under a partial lockdown, prisoners can use the day room in their area, get out of their cell to eat or get their medications, Linster said. During a complete lockdown, food and medications are delivered to the cell.

Officials are checking the climate of the facility to make sure it is safe for the staff and residents.

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Reach Gordon Weixel at 701-250-8256 or Gordon.Weixel@bismarcktribune.com

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