Airway Heights Correction Center Still Under Emergency Operation - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Airway Heights Correction Center Still Under Emergency Operations After Incident

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SPOKANE, Wash. -
AIRWAY HEIGHTS, Wash. - A fight between nine inmates early Friday morning at the Airway Heights Corrections Center has caused the prison to continue to be under emergency operations. Although details of the incident are under investigation, the fight was between inmates who are part of two rival gangs prevalent at the corrections center and in Spokane. Those who work there say they always have people monitoring the security threat group because it is an ongoing problem at the prison.

"We have had S.T.G. (security threat group) gang fights," said Airway Heights Corrections Center Associate Superintendent James Key. "Our last one was over a year ago, and we have intelligence investigation units that constantly monitors these gangs within the institution to be able to provide information to prevent things like this."

The corrections center says the fight broke out in the dining hall between two rival gangs, the Surenos and the Nortenos. According to information complied by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Spokane County Sheriff's Office, and the Spokane Police Department, Hispanic-style street gangs like those two are on the rise in this region. They say there are twenty different Norteno sets active here and fifty Sureno sets in Spokane County and several of those originated here as well.

At the Airway Heights Corrections Center, workers say the Surenos have the highest percentage of gang members in the prison system. Now, because of the fight on Friday, no visitors are allowed until further notice and volunteer programs have been shutdown.

"We're currently at emergency status and we're evaluating intelligence and what we're getting from the population about the event," Key said. "Visiting and volunteer programs will be open when we get to a point where we can safely bring them on site and go into a new normal operations at the facility."

Staff at the corrections center are working to resolve the incident and say they understand how important the visiting and volunteer programs are. Once those have been reopened, it will post a notice online on the Department of Corrections website and on the Facebook page.

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