On January 31 there was an uprising amongst the immigration detainees at the Reeves County Detention Centre in Pecos, Texas. Details are still sketchy but it is understood that, after complaints of poor medical treatment were ignored by the prison authorities, inmates rioted setting fires and are said to have seized guards’ radio communication equipment.
The uprising, which lasted for 2 days and resulted in at least three inmates being injured and hospitalized, was the second time detainees had staged violent protests at the prison in the past two months. 700 of the Pecos prisoners have now been moved to another detention centre in Sierra Blanca, Texas, because sleeping areas were destroyed during Saturday’s rebellion.
The Pecos detention facility, with a capacity of 2,400 inmates, is the largest of the many immigrant detention centres in the United States currently run by private companies. It is managed by the Geo (Global Expertise in Outsourcing) Group, formerly known as Wackenhut Corrections Corporation, who also run the 200 place Campsfield House IRC in Oxfordshire.
Campsfield itself has been the scene of a number of disturbances over the years. There was an uprising there in March 2007, following the brutalisation of a detainee during an attempted removal. Police and prison staff took several hours to quell the riot, which left nine detainees and staff in hospital suffering from smoke inhalation.
In August of that year, there was a mass break-out following a fire, with 26 men going on the run. Most were quickly recaptured, although eight are believed to have disappeared without trace. More than 120 detainees rioted in December 2007, smashing CCTV systems and other equipment during another removal. In June 2008 further fires were set, the 'Tornado Team' riot squads were sent in and the camp was locked down again. Later that month, 7 detainees also escaped, with only 4 being recaptured, and the latest of a long line of hunger strike took place amongst Iraqi Kurds in August of last year.