Sing Sing Prison Fire: Inmate Complaints Rise to 117


Another 70 inmates are complaining about missteps in Sing Sing correctional facility officials’ handling of the April 18 pre-dawn electrical fire at the upstate prison, the Voice has learned.

Some 700 inmates had to be relocated following the fire, many suffering respiratory injuries. In all, 117 Sing Sing inmates have written letters complaining about the prison’s handling of the fire.

The new batch of inmate letters contain similar complaints to those the Voice disclosed earlier this month. One inmate claims there was a 45-minute delay in contacting the fire department. When the fire chief for Ossining, New York, arrived, he ordered the windows opened in the block and a vent to the roof opened. But both the mechanism to open the windows and the vent were broken.

Another inmate claims he was never evacuated from his cell. He claims his cell door wouldn’t open because the locking mechanism was broken. It took until the early afternoon for medical care to arrive. A third inmate says that medical staff declared all inmates healthy, but gave guards comp-day slips to recover from smoke inhalation. Two inmates claim a guard shouted, “Fuck the animals.”

A spokesperson for the state Department of Correctional Services, declined to comment citing the potential for lawsuits surrounding the incident. But he said that all prisons have fire emergency plans that are followed.