1 Dead, 19 Injured in Riot at For-Profit Immigration Detention Center

bars2.jpgThis is indicative of why private prisons should be abolished!

(flickr: madamepsychosis)

via Talking Points Memo


Eric Lach May 21, 2012

One guard was killed and 19 other people were injured on Sunday during a riot at a private Mississippi prison that holds illegal immigrants. The Associated Press reports that as many as 300 inmates, “some of them armed with makeshift weapons such as broomsticks,” were involved in the incident at the Adams County Correctional Facility in Natchez, Miss.

From the AP:

More than two dozen officers were held hostage at some point during the hours-long spate of violence Sunday, including a group of 15 who had to be rescued by special response teams, Adams County Sheriff Chuck Mayfield said. A gang fight set off the violence, the sheriff said. The guard was killed on the roof of one of the prison buildings.

Sixteen prison employees and three inmates were hurt during the incident.

The prison is owned and operated by the Correction Corporation of America (CCA), the nation’s largest private prison company. The Natchez facility houses around 2,500 adult males, most serving sentences for returning to the United States after being deported. The Federal Bureau of Prisons told the AP that the facility holds low-security inmates.

The guard who was killed, Catlin Carithers, was a 24-year-old senior correctional officer who joined the company in 2009.

In a statement on the company’s website, CCA President and CEO Damon Hininger said the Natchez facility was placed on lockdown following Sunday’s incident, and all inmates were accounted for. Hininger said an investigation into the incident will include the Federal Bureau of Prisons and other law enforcement officials. He also expressed sadness over Carithers’ death.

“It is often said in corrections that no matter how prepared we are - indeed, no matter how well-trained and experienced we become - nothing can brace us for the sobering loss of one of our own,” Hininger wrote. “Whether we are employees at the impacted facility or many miles away, we are all affected, saddened and, in ways both small and great, changed… In difficult times like these, we truly face and acknowledge the incredible calling and sacrifice we’ve undertaken in providing this vital public service. Let us continue to keep each other in our thoughts at this time.”

CCA houses around 75,000 offenders and detainees in more than 60 facilities around the country, 44 of which are company-owned. The company employs nearly 17,000 people.

The ACLU, which has been highly critical of CCA and the rest of the private prison industry in the past, released a statement Monday saying that this weekend’s incident “should make clear to Mississippi and every other state that for-profit incarceration must end.”

“The riot this past weekend at the Adams County Correctional Center is indicative of what can happen at facilities run by private prison companies like Corrections Corporation of America, who have incentives to cut corners even at the expense of decent and safe conditions,” the statement said. “Staff and guards are too often poorly paid and trained, conditions of confinement are often woefully inadequate and levels of violence can be higher at for-profit facilities.”

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