Feb 22, 2015
A federal prison in Texas will transfer up to 2,800 inmates to other institutions in the area in response to a two-day uprising which began Friday over the prison's living conditions and inadequate medical services.
Inmates at the for-profit Willacy County Correctional Center were reportedly cooperative with authorities during negotiations on Saturday.
Up to 2,000 people being held at the prison began protesting Friday to express their frustration with medical services there by refusing to eat breakfast, but the incident escalated when several of the Kevlar tents which house the prisoners were set on fire, causing minor damage. Only minor injuries were reported. Correctional officers reportedly used tear gas to quell the protest.
The center houses low-level offenders and illegal immigrants. In an investigative report published last year, the ACLU found that inmates there face squalid conditions, overcrowding, racial discrimination, and high levels of solitary confinement. The report described the tent-filled compounds as "[not] only foul, cramped and depressing, but also overcrowded," while staff at the prison reportedly ignored inmates' medical concerns and cut corners in providing adequate health care.
Brian McGiverin, a prisoners' rights attorney with the Texas Civil Rights Project, told the Associated Press that it was not surprising to hear that medical complaints led to a protest at the center.
"It's pretty abysmal with regard to modern standards how people should be treated, pretty much anywhere you go," he said.
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