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Mississippi prison on lockdown after riot; 1 dead, 19 injured

May 21, 2012|By Michael Muskal
  • Smoke rises above the Adams County Correctional Center in Natchez, Miss., during an inmate disturbance Sunday.
Smoke rises above the Adams County Correctional Center in Natchez, Miss.,… (Lauren Wood / Natchez Democrat )

A privately-run prison for low-security inmates in Mississippi remained locked down Monday while officials investigated what triggered a riot at the Adams County Correctional Center a day earlier.

One guard died, and 16 employees were injured -- as were three inmates -- in the riot that began Sunday afternoon. The prison was back under control at 2:45 a.m. Monday, Emilee Beach, a prison spokeswoman said in a telephone interview Monday morning.

The cause for the incident was not immediately known, Beach said.

The 2,567-bed prison near Natchez, Miss., houses low-security male inmates, including illegal immigrants who have reentered the United States after being deported, Beach said. Officials don't think that immigration status was a factor in the disturbance, she said.

The guard was “transported to the local hospital [but] did not survive injuries sustained from an assault by inmates,” the prison said in a statement released Monday morning. “Our thoughts and prayers are with this employee's family. Out of respect for their privacy, the employee's name is not being released at this time.”

Sixteen other employees were treated and released from a hospital. Three inmates were also taken to a hospital, and one has returned to work at the facility, officials said.

The prison is operated by Corrections Corp. of America, of Nashville, Tenn.

According to its website, the company houses approximately “75,000 offenders and detainees in more than 60 facilities, 44 of which are company-owned, with a total bed capacity of more than 80,000. CCA currently partners with all three federal corrections agencies [Federal Bureau of Prisons, the U.S. Marshals Service and Immigration and Customs Enforcement], nearly half of all states and more than a dozen local municipalities.”

“CCA wishes to thank the immediate response and strong support from officials with the Adams County Sheriff's Department and the Mississippi State Highway Patrol,” the company said in its statement emailed to reporters. “Their quick response and efforts in support of and coordination with the facility's response staff helped to bring resolution to the disturbance.

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

Sunday's riot is not the first time CCA prisons have seen disturbances, according to the Associated Press.

In 2004, inmates at another CCA prison in Mississippi, the Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility, set fire to mattresses, clothing and a portable toilet. No injuries were reported. The company announced after that disturbance that it would add about 25 guards at the Tallahatchie County facility.

In Idaho, the high level of violence at a CCA-run prison has prompted federal lawsuits, public scrutiny and increased state oversight. In 2010, Vermont inmates being held at a CCA prison in Tennessee were subdued with chemical grenades after refusing to return to their cells.

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michael.muskal@latimes.com

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