SANTA CRUZ (KPIX 5) – There was a wild scene inside the Santa Cruz County Jail, where masked inmates armed with soap, books and mattresses booby-trapped an entire cell block.
A simple complaint led to a full-scale revolt.
Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Brian Cleveland said, “Once negotiations failed, they had blocked the room, they had made threats to our officers and the decision was made at that point to make an entry about 2 p.m. on Tuesday.”
It was a mess inside the l-unit of the west wing at the Santa Cruz County Jail.
Deputies say it was a minefield of booby traps. Bedsheets were tied across the railing to act as tripwires, soapy water was thrown on the floor to create a slipping hazard, mattresses were used to block access to the stairs and windows were smashed.
This all started Monday, when the inmates complained that it was too cold. They were offered extra clothes and blankets, but apparently, they said no.
Maintenance crews were then called in to check the system.
Cleveland said, “The temperature that we noted in all the units was in the high 60s, low 70s, so it wasn’t cold by any means.”
He said it may have potentially been an excuse to pick a fight.
“Some of the inmates have grievances about things and our staff does a great job of trying to work with the inmates,” Cleveland said.
As tensions rose, the inmates covered up the surveillance cameras, and put sheets over the windows.
They donned masks and socks over their arms as armor, and put in earplugs to protect their hearing.
Officers, dressed in riot gear, entered the jail and used stingball devices filled with rubber pellets, along with bean bag rounds.
It ended very quickly after that.
It took 15 workers three hours to clean up the mess.
“I really think that this is an isolated incident,” Cleveland said. “This does not happen at our jail. We have a pretty progressive jail that meets with inmates and discusses problems and it’s easy for them to file grievances with things that are going on.”