MICHIGAN CITY | A lockdown triggered by a conflict between rival gangs at the Indiana State Prison will remain in effect indefinitely.
ISP Superintendent Bill Wilson said Thursday restrictions under the lockdown — now in its fourth week — began to be slightly loosened recently.
The lockdown went into effect June 17.
Wilson said seven members from different "security threat groups" engaged in a conflict involving shanks. STGs is the official term used at the prison to describe what are more commonly known as gangs.
Wilson said there were no injuries in the altercation, which occurred in the area of the prison known as Main Street, a walkway used by offenders from their cells to the recreation area.
Wilson said the purpose of the lockdown was to restrict the movement of offenders so investigators can search the facility for any additional weapons, investigate who belongs to the gangs and determine the make up of gang leadership.
The lockdown also was used to place offenders involved in the altercation and others determined to be a threat to the general prison population away from offenders less prone to violence.
"Sometimes we have to isolate our problematic offenders," Wilson said.
Wilson said there are offenders at the prison who are members of gangs like the Gangster Disciples, Latin Kings and Vice Lords. They operate similar to those on the streets in terms of marking their territory within the prison and trying to have contraband such as drugs smuggled into the facility, he said.
"We have an active awareness of the groups and who the players are, but after this incident we felt it was prudent to do a full investigation," Wilson said.
He said inmates are confined to their cells during the lockdown except for taking showers and are not allowed visitation or telephone calls. He said telephone calls just started being allowed again this week.
The investigation is proceeding slowly as a precaution against offenders retaliating. When the lockdown will be lifted entirely was not known due to the pace of the ongoing internal probe.
"We just can't let that stuff escalate into a major problem," Wilson said.