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Colorado Prisoners Riot in Texas Jail

On page 13 of this issue of PLN we feature an article about 500 Colorado prisoners who were abducted from Colorado prisons and shipped to the Bowie County Jail in Texarkana, TX. The 500 Colorado prisoners have been fighting the move ever since, primarily through a lawsuit filed by the Colorado ACLU.

In a move to counter the ACLU suit, which alleges substandard living conditions, Texas sent one of their own state inspectors in to the jail. On December 4th a report was released by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards which found no problems with the facility during the inspection. One week later the Colorado prisoners, frustrated and angry over their plight, erupted in a melee that rolled through the jail for two hours.

The riot began at 3 a.m. when guards went into one of the 24-man dorm-style living units and attempted to pull down towels and blankets that prisoners had put up to shield their eyes from lights which are left on 24 hours a day. A scuffle broke out between guards and prisoners of that unit, and the rumble quickly spread to other units. Some prisoners broke into an adjacent hallway and tore out light fixtures and damaged a classroom. Prisoners in the living units ripped out plumbing and light fixtures. Additional guards had to be called in to quell the disturbance, and a helicopter hovered over the jail to watch for escaping prisoners. No injuries were reported, but past experience leads PLN editors to view such reports (by prison officials to the media) with a great deal of skepticism.

Five Colorado corrections officials flew to Texarkana later that same day to interview the prisoners. According to Liz McDonough, a Colorado DOC spokesperson, criminal charges may be filed in Colorado and Texas against the prisoners involved in the riot.

It will be interesting to see if Bowie County is still eager to house out-of-state prisoners "for profit" after paying to repair the damages caused by their guests from Colorado.

Source: Rocky Mountain News

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