Officials at shorthanded Fulton County jail bring in reinforcements to control angry inmates

The exterior of the Fulton County Correctional Facility at 2710 Route 29 in Johnstownis seen Sunday.

The exterior of the Fulton County Correctional Facility at 2710 Route 29 in Johnstownis seen Sunday.

FULTON COUNTY — Officials at the Fulton County Correctional Facility, which is shorthanded by an outbreak of COVID-19 cases, brought in reinforcements to deal with angry inmates Saturday.

Members of the county Road Patrol and state police helped corrections officers maintain control, county Sheriff Richard Giardino said Sunday.

The sheriff would only describe the incident as a disciplinary “situation” involving six to eight inmates of its maximum security unit.

Giardino said the inmates refused to comply with commands by corrections staff.

“We didn’t have enough staff available to take care of the unit and man the rest of the jail,” he said. “So we brought in road deputies and troopers as a force multiplier so that we could maintain the rest of the facility and concentrate on the problem at the same time. The point was trying not to have any injuries with staff or inmates.”

Giardino said he wasn’t concerned that this would be an ongoing problem at the jail.

“I’m hoping it’s a one-time deal,” he said.

The disagreement never escalated to a physical confrontation, the sheriff said.

Nearly a third of the staff of 60-plus officers are out with COVID-19 or COVID-like symptoms, he said.

Meantime, approximately 38 inmates at the jail have tested positive for COVID-19, part of an ongoing outbreak of the coronavirus at the facility for the past two weeks.

Everyone was offered the vaccine, but less than 50 percent of staff and an unknown percentage of the approximately 100 inmates have declined, Giardino said.

In a statement posted to Facebook, Giardino thanked staff and administration who have been working overtime and double shifts during the outbreak. He also thanked their families for their understanding.

The sheriff noted the vast majority of inmates have been cooperative during the outbreak.

He said there were no COVID-19 cases among inmates this year, until the past two weeks.

“It just shows you how quick it can take off,” the sheriff said.

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