Secretary of Public Safety Daniel Bennett said the incident began with a fight Monday between two inmates at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center and quickly escalated when 47 inmates refused orders to return to their cells.
The riot ended about three hours later. Bennett credits a decision to remove corrections officers from the unit when the violence began as preventing serious injuries.
Bennett said security video shows inmates — including some serving life sentences for murder — smashing furniture, computers and fire extinguishers to fashion makeshift knives and other weapons. He said they intended to attack corrections officers.
The inmates gave up after police flooded the unit with pepper spray.
The prison is where former NFL player Aaron Hernandez is incarcerated.