Smoking Ban Causes Another Prison Riot
Inmate’s tobacco-related rampage adds to his sentence
by John S. Hausman | Muskegon Chronicle
May 17, 2009
May 17, 2009
MUSKEGON COUNTY — Luke Matthew Vanderveen will have an extra four to 15 years before he can smoke again.
That’s the additional prison sentence Vanderveen got for a Dec. 4 bed-burning, cell-flooding rampage in his Muskegon prison cell that he blamed on a pending smoking ban.
Muskegon County Circuit Judge William C. Marietti this week sentenced the 28-year-old Vanderveen after the convict pleaded guilty in April to being a prisoner in possession of a weapon. The original charge of arson of a dwelling house was dropped when Vanderveen pleaded guilty to the lesser charge.
Juan C. McCrayAlso this week, Vanderveen’s co-defendant and former cellmate, Juan Carlos McCray, 23, pleaded guilty as charged to the arson count. He will be sentenced at 1:30 p.m. June 9.
The two were charged with arson after an alleged mini-riot in their cell at Earnest C. Brooks Correctional Facility in Muskegon. According to a prison incident report, Vanderveen and McCray barricaded their door, broke a window, flooded their cell and destroyed much of the property in it, including setting fire to sheets and a mattress.
Staff were able to crack the cell door open about 2 inches and sprayed gas inside, leading to the inmates’ surrender, according to the Michigan Department of Corrections.
Vanderveen reportedly said he did it in an attempt to force corrections officials to back off their plans to remove cigarettes from prisoners. McCray reportedly said “it was the holidays and I lost my mind.”
A statewide ban on tobacco products and matches in Michigan’s prisons took effect Feb. 1. Tobacco supplies were steadily ratcheted back for many months before that, with all sales by prison commissaries halted Jan. 1.
Vanderveen already was serving a sentence of 22 to 50 years for a 2006 conviction of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with personal injury in Allegan County, according to Michigan Department of Corrections records, and a concurrent sentence of 21 to 40 years for the same offense in Kent County. He is lodged at the state’s Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility, a close-security prison in Ionia.
The new sentence pushes back Vanderveen’s earliest possible “out” date from 2028 to 2032. His “maximum” date moves back from 2056 to 2071, at which time he would be 90 years old.
McCray is serving three concurrent 10-to-15-year sentences for 2007 convictions of third-degree criminal sexual conduct in Livingston County. His arson conviction is expected to add more than eight years to his minimum sentence, pushing his earliest possible release date from 2017 to 2025.
Both men were transferred to higher-security prisons after the incident. McCray is at Ionia Maximum Correctional Facility.
More articles about smoking in prisons in Muskegon County.