By Alan Prendergast | Westword blog
Seven years ago inmates at a private prison in southeastern Colorado went on an all-night rampage, chasing the shorthanded staff from the premises, attacking suspected snitches, setting fires and causing millions of dollars in damages. Now documents filed in a long-running legal battle confirm what many prisoners have been saying all along — that prison officials received ample warning of impending trouble but failed to take action in time.
The 2004 riot at the Crowley County Correctional Facility, operated by the Corrections Corporation of America, has emerged as a kind of case study in the multiple ways things can go wrong in a for-profit prison. The night of the incident, the prison had only 47 employees on duty, including eight trainees, to supervise 1,122 inmates. There had been growing tension at the facility for weeks over issues ranging from food and rec privileges to the presence of numerous disgruntled inmates recently shipped in from Washington and Wyoming to fill beds.
The Colorado Department of Corrections’ after-action report would later blast CCA officials for inadequate training and emergency response procedures — but the DOC’s own monitoring of the prison up to the night of the riot had been cursory at best, marked by a distinct failure to follow up on report after report of inmate complaints and indications that the place could “go off” soon.
Yet some of the most telling details about the riot and its aftermath have emerged slowly, over the course of an epic lawsuit filed against CCA on behalf of close to 200 Crowley prisoners. The plaintiffs, who claim to be among the majority of prisoners who “sat out” the riot by quietly lying down in the yard or in their units, contend that CCA could have prevented the riot by responding promptly to trouble signs — and that they were abused and injured by corrections officers in the aftermath of the incident…(Full text at Westword blog)
Paco urges all readers to follow the above link in order to read the entire article at Westword blog. Author Alan Prendergast masterfully details a tragicomedy of mistakes and missteps leading to what became a bloodbath e.g. “Despite numerous warnings, Crowley’s commanders failed to lock down the facility or stagger the recreational time. Instead, the warden left at five, and a skeleton crew remained when all 1100 inmates were released for recreation…”
Of particular interest is a comment posted below the article by a user called Kansan, who is clearly an insider: “The communication devices supplied to Crowley staff to insure their safety were failing and were not being repaired. CCA told them replacement was “not in the budget.” The comment stands on its own and also deserves a full and thoughtful reading.