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Inmates transferred from tornado damaged prison

Published: Mar. 9, 2012 at 2:45 PM CST|Updated: Apr. 6, 2012 at 9:45 AM CDT
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Tornado damage to the canteen at Limestone Correctional Facility.
Tornado damage to the canteen at Limestone Correctional Facility.
Tornado damage to a dorm at Limestone Correctional Facility.
Tornado damage to a dorm at Limestone Correctional Facility.

HARVEST, AL (WAFF) - The Alabama Department of Corrections is transferring hundreds of inmates from the Limestone Correctional Facility because of tornado damage to several buildings.

A tornado skirted the prison on Friday, March 2, around 9:30 a.m. A total of five tornadoes have been confirmed by the National Weather Service in the Madison and Limestone County areas, the worst an EF-3 that traveled 34 miles across both counties.

The Limestone facility sustained significant damage to the roofing on Cell Blocks C and D, a canteen, a training facility, the K-9 kennel, and other areas of the prison including perimeter fencing. There were no significant injuries to inmates or staff.

Department of Corrections officials said preemptive actions taken by Limestone staff avoided injuries and possibly saved lives. The Limestone County Emergency Management Agency notified the facility of the pending storm. Warden Mitchem sounded the tornado alarm and ordered a facility lockdown to ensure safety.

"Limestone operated in an orderly manner even after the tornado hit," Commissioner Kim Thomas said.  "The inmate population is to be commended for acting in a cooperative and patient manner.  The whole staff did an excellent job keeping everything under control while we got the necessary assistance mobilized and to the facility."

About 300 Limestone inmates living in the effected areas were temporarily moved to other cell blocks and the facility gymnasium.

On Tuesday, 100 inmates were transferred to the Bullock County Correctional Facility. On Wednesday, March 7, and Thursday, March 8, a total of 100 inmates were transferred to the Alabama Therapeutic Education Facility in Columbiana. The ADOC Transfer Division completed the successful transport with escort assistance from the Department of Public Safety.

Limestone Correctional Facility is currently housing 2,199 inmates. Bullock Correctional Facility now houses 1,598, while 619 ADOC offenders are at the ATEF, a residential reentry center.

Damage assessments are ongoing at Limestone. A timeframe for repairs is unknown.

Visitation will resume the weekend of March 10 at Limestone Correctional Facility.

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