US & Canada

Texas authorities regain control of prison after inmates riot

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Media captionThe riots began early Friday morning when prisoners refused regular breakfast

Prison officials in south Texas are transferring hundreds of inmates after nearly 2,000 men took control of the facility and set fires.

Using pipes as weapons, prisoners began rioting Friday and maintained partial control of the facility until Saturday.

Inmates have complained that their medical needs are not properly addressed by the firm that manages the prison.

All 2,800 prisoners will be transferred to other facilities this week.

Most of the "low-level" offenders housed at the facility are immigrants who entered the United States illegally.

The Willacy County Correctional Center, which is composed of several large tents surrounded by barbed wire fencing, is located in Raymondville about 40 miles (64 km) from the US-Mexico border. Local media reported that the inmates damaged the plumbing and heating and cooling systems making the prison uninhabitable.

The facility is a "Criminal Alien Requirement" (CAR) facility operated by Utah-based Management & Training Corp.

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Image caption Several law enforcement agencies were involved in attempts to regain control of the facility

In a report released last year, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) detailed unsanitary living conditions and suboptimal medical care at the prison.

"It's pretty abysmal with regard to modern standards how people should be treated, pretty much anywhere you go,'' Carl Takei, an ACLU staff attorney, told the Associated Press news agency.

Problems include overflowing toilets and sewage that seeps into living areas, he said.

"We believe offenders receive timely, quality health care," Issa Arnita, a spokesman for the prison's management company said. He noted that the facility's health services were independently accredited.

CAR facilities hold offenders convicted of immigration related crimes. They are among the only federal prisons operated by private firms rather than as federal institutions under the direction of the Bureau of Prisons.

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