Inmates stage brief takeover of Grants Pass youth prison

GRANTS PASS — A search for contraband at a residential unit inside the Rogue Valley Youth Correctional Facility in Grants Pass turned chaotic Sunday night when youth inmates refused to comply with orders and started destroying property, Oregon Youth Authority officials reported.

Employees had to back out of the living area where 11 young offenders barricaded themselves inside. Grants Pass Department of Public Safety and Oregon State Police negotiated with the teens until 1 a.m. today.

At about 8 p.m. Sunday, officials came to one of the units in the detention center looking for contraband. Units at the facility are capable of housing up to 20 youth and are similar to college dorms, OYA spokesman CJ Drake said.

"It's where the youth sleep, it's where they bathe, it usually includes a common area," Drake said. "(Officials) conduct searches from time to time."

OYA officials said youth refused to comply with the search, became disorderly and started to destroy property inside the living space. What was destroyed and whether the youth made threats toward staff remains under investigation, officials said.

OYA officials attempted to gain control of the situation but ultimately evacuated, leaving the 11 juveniles barricaded inside. One official locked himself in the unit's observation room.

Grants Pass police and OSP responded and began negotiations with the youth. The staff member locked in the observation room was evacuated safely, authorities reported.

"The purpose is to de-escalate the situation, which police were able to do quite successfully," Drake said.

By 1 a.m. today, the youth were removed from the unit. No one was injured. Superintendent Ken Jerin said things were back to normal this morning, the Associated Press reported.

— Ryan Pfeil

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