Sheriff: No inmate was going to escape

Published 12:34 am Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Ben Hillyer/The Natchez Democrat — Adams County Sheriff Chuck Mayfield discusses the events surrounding the Sunday prison uprising at the Adams County Correctional Center. With Mayfield was Adams County Coroner James Lee.

By Julie Cooper & Vershal Hogan

NATCHEZ — Adams County Sheriff Chuck Mayfield knows exactly why none of the rioting inmates tried to escape the prison they spent hours trashing Sunday night.

“It would have been suicide,” Mayfield said Monday.

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Suicide because Mayfield’s men and dozens of backup officers from a multitude of agencies were standing on the other side of the razor wire fence, loaded weapons ready and with orders to fire if needed.

“We had made up our mind that no one was getting out of there,” Mayfield said.

But bullets weren’t necessary and gunshots were never fired.

Mayfield said he never saw the first inmate make a move toward escape.

“A lot of them were just walking up and down the fence,” he said. “They did hurl some insults at us and tried to bait us a little bit.”

Verbal taunting aside, the inmates’ wrath stayed inside the prison’s fences.

“I promised the community that nobody would get out, and nobody did,” Mayfield said.

Unfortunately the armed law enforcement officials outside the fence couldn’t intervene in the violence they witnessed inside the boundary.

Senior Correctional Officer Catlin Carithers, 24, of Meadville was assaulted on the roof of the prison by multiple inmates. He later died of blunt force trauma to the head and possibly a fractured skull, Adams County Coroner James Lee said.

Sixteen other employees of the Adams County Correctional Center were injured, all later treated and released from medical care. Three inmates were injured and were transported to hospitals; one had returned to the prison by Monday morning.

“Some of it was stuff you just didn’t want to see,” Mayfield said of what his deputies saw occur on the other side of the fences. “We witnessed several (inmates) beating one of the guards. And we couldn’t get to them.”

“That’s a helpless feeling to sit there and watch.”

Law enforcement on the outside did direct special response teams inside the prison to violent scenes, though.

“Thankfully, the SRT teams were able to get there,” Mayfield said of the incident he saw.