Adams County prison riot kills one guard, hostages held
BRANDON, Miss. (AP) - A guard was killed and, at one point, hostages were taken during a riot at a Mississippi prison that holds illegal immigrants, authorities said.
The Sunday riot at the privately run Adams County Correctional Center in southwest Mississippi began around 2:40 p.m. CDT and involved dozens of inmates before it was brought under control that night.
Adams County Sheriff Chuck Mayfield told the Natchez Democrat that 15 employees were freed at one time during the uprising by opening a fence and protecting the route with guns. The sheriff said in a statement early Monday that there were at least two dozen hostages being held at one time.
Mayfield says gang activity caused the riot and that the slain guard was beaten to death by inmates on the roof of one of the buildings Sunday. The sheriff says as many as 300 inmates were involved and some were armed with makeshift weapons, such as broom handles.
Adams County Coroner James Lee confirmed that a guard died, but said he could not provide any other details until the correctional officer's family was notified. In addition to the guard who was killed, five other correctional officers and three inmates were injured.
CNN reports, though, that the 23-year-old guard died of head injuries sustained during the melee.
Emilee Beach, a spokeswoman at the Adams County Correctional Center said that after the disturbance was brought under control Sunday night, inmates were being searched and sent back to their cells.
Beach said the prison, owned and operated by Corrections Corp. of America, holds illegal immigrants, most for charges of re-entering the United States after being deported. An unidentified inmate inside the prison told WAPT-TV in Jackson, Miss. that inmates were "fed up with the way they had been treated."
The five injured guards were taken to a hospital and treated for injuries that weren't considered life-threatening.
The 2,567-bed prison in Natchez houses adult male illegal immigrants for the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
CCA spokesman Steve Owen confirmed in an email "there has been one employee death" but he said he could not provide more details immediately.
He said in an email early Monday "it is my understanding that all staff are accounted for." He said the company was investigating what caused the uprising.
Adams County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Emily Ham said no inmates had escaped the facility.
After the uprising began, CCA's Special Response Team and the Mississippi Highway Patrol's SWAT team sought to quell activities within the prison while state and local law-enforcement officers secured the perimeter of the complex, Mayfield said in a statement.
Mayfield added that prison personnel had "gained total control" of the complex.
"Right now, we have three inmate injuries that were probably sustained from other inmates - one being a stab wound, concussion and rib injuries," Mayfield added. "There were no escapes."
According to its website, Nashville, Tenn.-based CCA houses about 75,000 offenders and detainees in more than 60 facilities around the country.
Sunday's riot is not the first time CCA prisons have seen violence. The high level of violence at a CCA-run prison in Idaho 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.