Crossroads Correctional Center in Cameron is struggling to recover from the May 12 riot. The facility houses about 1,500 medium and maximum security inmates.

“Truly, the Crossroads situation is unprecedented in Missouri,” state Department of Corrections spokeswoman Karen Pojmann wrote in an email. “We have never before faced such utter destruction on the scale that occurred … and I’m not aware of any comparable situation in another state.”

The lockdown has persisted for so long because corrections officers feared for their safety, officials said.

The prison is working to rebuild staff, ease its lockdown, restore suspended programs and reassure concerned lawmakers. Some meals will soon be held outside of cells, recreation time will be increased and normal visiting schedules will be restored by Sept. 14, department officials said.

Latahra Smith, a private investigator who organized the group Missouri Families for Inmate Rights after the Crossroads lockdown, said the loosened restrictions are a step in the right direction, however, more needs to be done to address the prison’s conditions, including dismissal of warden Ronda Pash.

“We’re happy to see the step-down in place,” she said. “But it doesn’t stop here. We want the removal of Ronda Pash.”

Pojmann declined to comment on the petition to remove Pash.

The riot began after more than 200 inmates began a sit-in in the dining hall regarding issues with reductions in recreation time and several programs. About 80 inmates refused to return to their cells and began destroying the central services building. The Missouri State Highway Patrol attempted to negotiate an end to the situation, however, the rioting lasted about six hours.

The riot damaged the kitchen, dining areas, factories, food storage, offices, tools, machinery and security doors, Pojmann said.

Missouri Lawyers Weekly/Associated Press