Mississippi prison under control after inmate riot

Reuters News
Posted: May 24, 2012 12:35 PM
Mississippi prison under control after inmate riot

By Emily Le Coz

TUPELO, Mississippi (Reuters) - Mississippi authorities gained control of a privately owned prison on Monday after a twelve-hour riot in which one guard was killed and several other guards and inmates were wounded, prison officials said.

Authorities took control of the 2,567-bed Adams County Correctional Center, a low-security prison in Natchez, Miss., that houses mostly illegal immigrants for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, at around 2:45 a.m. CDT, according to the Corrections Corporation of America, which owns and operates the facility.

A large group of inmates took control of the prison on Sunday afternoon, lighting fires and taking hostages. Adams County Sheriff Chuck Mayfield said all of the more than two dozen hostages were safe.

Adams County Coroner James Lee said a 23-year-old guard died of blunt trauma to the head during the riot. The guard's name has not been released.

An additional 16 prison employees and three inmates from the facility were treated at an area hospital. None of the inmates escaped, the Adams County Sheriff's Department said.

Most of the prison's inmates are illegal immigrants from Mexico, many of whom were arrested on drug-related charges and are awaiting deportation. There was no immediate word on what sparked the riot.

"I personally saw the fire start outside the prison but within the fences," said Sessions Vestal, who lives near the prison. "It looked like they launched tear gas."

Photographs showed white smoke lingering above the prison yard.

Emilee Beach, a spokeswoman for the Corrections Corporation of America, said the riot was under investigation and authorities were assessing damage to the building.

"Facility management and staff will work closely with the Federal Bureau of Investigations and law enforcement officials to investigate the incident," Beach said. "CCA will support full prosecution under the law for all inmates identified as having committed criminal acts during the disturbance."

(Editing By Edith Honan and Paul Simao)