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Uprising at GEO Group Illinois Jail

On June 1, 2007, forty-six prisoners at the Tri-County Justice and Detention Center in Ullin, Illinois were involved in an hour-long riot. The 226-bed jail is owned by Pulaski County but operated by Florida-based GEO Group, formerly known as Wackenhut.

The disturbance began around 8:00 p.m. when prisoners barricaded themselves into one section of the jail and began burning mattresses and books. About half an hour later, police ended the uprising by firing tear gas into the barricaded area. No reason was given for the disturbance.
?We?re investigating why it happened, how it happened and we?re going to get down to the who needs to be charged,? said Pulaski County Sheriff Randy Kern, who is also the jail?s warden.

The incident occurred about five weeks after a riot at a GEO-run Illinois prison, the New Castle Correctional Facility, which resulted in nine injuries. [See: PLN, Nov. 2007, p.16]. The Illinois Department of Corrections blamed understaffing and poor staff training for that incident.

?If you get over the moral issue of incarcerating people for profit, I think you can see they don?t do a good job,? said Ken Kopczynski of the Private Corrections Institute, which opposes prison privatization. He added that the relative number of incidents such as escapes, riots and abuse of prisoners by guards is higher at private prisons than in government-operated facilities.


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