Appalling conditions in Texas prison leads to riots by inmates causing massive damage. The privately-run institution--prisons are increasingly being privatized--has very poor living conditions and due to lack of oversight and rules, many prisoners are physically and sexually abused.
Monday February 23, 2015, 17:27 EST
Nearly 2,000 detainees, mostly immigrants, went on a strike on Friday, February 20, 2015, in a Texas prison over appallingly poor living conditions. The riot occurred at the Willacy County Correctional Center, where prisoners refused to eat breakfast or report for work to protest laco of medical services at the facility.
The prison holds around 2,900 prisoners, which means that only 800 of the prison population refused to join the riot. The prison incurred significant damage, and the US federal government has since then decided to relocate the prisoners from the now “uninhabitable” facility. The prison is run by a private institution, the Management and Training Corp (MTC).
Black men are six times more likely than white men to be sent to prison.
Prisons in the United States are contracted out to private organizations, that run them for a profit. This means charging prisoners for basic amenities while providing sub-par and inhuman living conditions that take a significant toll on their health. There is very little oversight and implementation of rules, which leads to high rates of physical and sexual abuse within prisons. An overwhelming number of prisoners tend to be black, Hispanic, and after 9/11, Muslim.
The Willacy County prison fit this profile—the fact that conditions were severe enough to lead to a prison riot underscores how bad living conditions really were. The US has the largest prison population of any developed country in the world—around 1.57 million inmates sit behind bars, and the numbers are growing fast.
Black men are six times more likely than white men to be sent to prison. Hispanic men are 2.4 times more likely to be sent to prison. And a vastly greater number of Americans — 1 in 31 according to 2009 Pew figures — are under US corrections custody either through parole, probation, or incarceration. One in three Americans has a criminal record, according to recent FBI estimates.
Conditions in prisons will only deteriorate further. As more and more money continues to be allocated to the Defense Budget, Congress is passing bills to limit public institutions, including correctional centers. For instance, the Smarter Sentencing Act is set to reduce prison costs by $4 billion in just the first decade.