As inmates were waiting for the evening meal and some were filing to and from the Central Dining Hall, the fire alarm sounded in the Maximum Security Unit of 8E Dormitory. A Sergeant stationed outside the dining hall ordered all inmates to return to their dormitories when a haze of smoke was spotted emanating from the building's door. Another Sergeant locked many other inmates inside the dining hall. Inmates began to scramble in various directions while others herded into the recreation yard watching the commotion. Within minutes, smoke and flames were billowing from the roof of the Dormitory as the prison fire department arrived pulling their "Keystone" looking fire truck. Approximately twenty-five minutes later, many fire trucks from outside the prison camp began to arrive at the location. It was reported that a prison official was overheard telling the unit officer not to let them out, but to let it burn, despite the fact that another officer was inside with keys. Many of the men escaped from a broken window while others were finally released. The inmates were escorted to the prison school only later to be locked in the dining hall when another eruption occurred in the school gym. Several other fires began to emerge in buildings throughout the institution. Prisoners in some of the dorms tried to extinguish the fires until buildings could be evacuated by Prison Officials. Emergency vehicles at the 8E location were dispatched to the other units and fires were quickly doused. The angered prisoners were returned to the musty units while many other prisoners remained locked in the dining hall the remainder of the night and bussed to other prisons. The Special Response Team (SRT) and many Special Tactics and Response teams (STAR) responded to the scene only to sit idle as the institution went on "lock-down."
The Behavior Modification Program was to be a "step-down" program for inmates who tested positive for illegal drug use. They would be denied virtually all privileges, and gradually regain them as they progressed in the program. However, Orient Officials tried to implement the program in a matter of a few days and didn't have enough inmates that tested positive for drug use to fill the program. So they began to remove inmates from the general population, many who prior only had minor rule infractions. In one case, they went back to 1989 to find a rule infraction. When one inmate complained, he was handcuffed, maced, and beaten in front of about eighty other prisoners, a beating that required several stitches to his head and face. There were numerous other reports of excessive force as well. Many of the inmates forced into this program were already punished, and had completed a six-month substance abuse program and were making good progress. They also retrieved inmates from many valuable rehabilitative programs, such as Kirk Literacy Unit, where they were learning to read for the first time in their lives. Consequently, many of the inmates protested.
The insertion of the modification program was handled poorly by the prison administration. This was not an isolated incident. Corruption, abuse, and profligate waste are common practices in Ohio's prison system that taxpayers can ill afford. Officials flagrantly violate department policy on a daily basis, but the only real "whistle-blowers" are the prisoners. This will probably remain the status quo, and administration unchecked tyranny will only lead to unlimited taxpayer costs.