UPDATE: Two hostages still held inside Delaware prison [video]

James Vaughn Correction Center in Smyrna

James Vaughn Correction Center in Smyrna

An unkown number of inmates have taken hostages inside James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna.

Delaware State Police, Sgt. Richard Bratz said the incident started around 10:30 Wednesday morning in the “C” building which holds 100 inmates.  The FBI and other law agencies have alls stepped in to resolve this matter. Four correction department employees were taken hostage but two were released by the evening according to Robert Coup of the Delaware Department of Safety and Homeland Security.

By late afternoon, the first staff member was released with non-life threatening injuries. Hours later another correction employee. Then a group of eight inmates as well as a group of 19 inmates. It’s unclear if those inmates surrendered or were being held captive too.

Earlier reports from inmates who have contacted various news outlets said they were upset with prison conditions. Coup hasn’t confirmed that as a motive but had this to say.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

“Once this matter is resolved safely then that will be the time to talk if the inmates want to talk about conditions and privileges,” Coup said.

It was previously reported that five correctional employees were being held captive because one staffer was scheduled to be in the area at the time of the incident but was later found working in another part of the building.

Police don’t know if there are any other injuries to any of the hostages.

An inmate from inside the prison called the Wilmington News Journal earlier this afternoon, apparently to deliver demands from the hostage takers. In that call, the inmate said, “Bridging the gap between JVTCC and society create a systematic appreciation of remedies conducive to reform and rehabilitation.” The inmate said his head was covered and he wasn’t able to see who or how many people had taken the hostages. “I’m just doing what I’m told, we just need somebody to hear what they need to, their demands.”

He said the hostage takers were upset with improper sentencing orders and oppression towards the inmates.

The Smyrna prison was the site of another hostage situation back in 2004. In that incident, a counselor was raped and taken hostage for about seven hours. She was freed when a police sharpshooter shot and killed the hostage taker.


EARLIER: The Wilmington News Journal has published audio from a caller inside the hostage situation at the Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna, Delaware. 

The audio published on DelawareOnline claims to be from a inmate who is being held hostage by other prisoners at the facility in central Delaware. “We need somebody to hear their demands,” the inmate told the newspaper. When asked to identify himself, he said the hostage takers wouldn’t let him say his name. “Bridging the gap between JTVCC and society create a systematic appreciation of remedies conducive to reform and rehabilitation,” the inmate says in the recording. 

Correction officials have confirmed that there is a hostage situation underway at the prison, but haven’t released any other information. Geoffrey Klopp, president of the Correctional Officers Association of Delaware, said that the Department of Correction commissioner told him that prison guards had been taken hostage. 

The Blood Bank of Delmarva called for blood donors to donate O blood type and platelets to send to Dover in response to the hostage situation. 

All Delaware prisons have been placed on lock down as a precaution. 

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal