An inmate at the Adult Correctional Institutions is facing charges after he punched a correctional officer.
Anthony Tavares allegedly punched the officer in the face on Sunday afternoon. It was the officer’s first day on the job.
"(It was) an unprovoked assault on a correctional officer. It caused the correctional officer to get a broken nose, a broken tooth, and lacerations to the face,” said Richard Ferruccio, president of the correctional officers’ union. “We always wish we could have more staff available to us, but the officer had somebody that was watching from a distance and was able to respond and that’s probably what kept the injuries to a minimum."
In 2001, Tavares was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the killing of his case worker.
Tavares was committed to the Eleanor Slater Hospital where he was later accused of punching a staff member and stabbing other patients with a pencil, one of them in the eye.
Ferruccio says violence at the ACI is not uncommon.
"Last year at the intake service center we had 170 uses of force incidents," he said. "That's one facility."
That means officers had to use pepper spray or physically restrain an inmate.
Ferruccio said the prison holds violent offenders like Tavares, but he says overcrowding after the closing of facilities is also to blame.
"What's happening is many of the inmates we normally could separate from one another are being forced to live with each other," he said.
A spokeswoman for the ACI says although they see a number of fights at the prisons, there's no evidence it's due to overcrowding.
Ferruccio said the injured officer is recovering and should return back to the work as soon as he's cleared.
The Rhode Island State Police are investigating.
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