Saturday, July 4, 2015

The True Story of a Texas Prison Riot

And how our rush to lock up immigrants has overwhelmed the federal prison system.

By Seth Freed Wessler, The Nation
June 23, 2015

The Willacy County Correctional Center in Raymondville, Texas, is now empty. As of late May, a single security guard sat in a small car in the entrance to the parking lot. It has been like this since prisoners so ransacked the facilities in a February riot, cutting and burning holes in the Kevlar domes that held them, that the Federal Bureau of Prisons declared it “uninhabitable.” The agency moved the inmates to other prisons and declined to renew its contract with the private corrections company that ran the facility. Nearly all of the 400 employees were terminated.

Willacy’s operating company, Management & Training Corp., says the riot was plotted by inmates and was unavoidable; the SWAT team it deployed to control inmates, a measured response to prisoner unrest. This version of the story, which has circulated in the press since the days after the riot, is at best a partial truth, and one that obscures the company’s own aggression. A fuller account of the events at Willacy points to deep problems with the federal government’s management of a soaring population of immigrants it incarcerates for border crimes.[...]

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