A Glimpse Inside the Texas Prison Where Inmates Rioted

Rioting over the weekend at the Willacy County Correctional Center in Raymondville, Texas may have been a protest against poor conditions.

By Rhonda Fanning February 23, 2015 11:15 am

Immigration and Homeland Security issues have collided in the town of Raymondville, Texas – where riots exploded over the weekend at the Willacy County Correction Center.

Carl Takei, staff attorney at the National Prison Project of the American Civil Liberties Union, visited the privately-run prison in 2013.

“The prisoners I talked to described how insects crawl inside the tents and bite them, how the toilets are constantly overflowing so there’s a smell of raw sewage inside their living areas, and how they are so packed together, that if you lay down in your bunk, your feet can touch the bunk right next to you,” Takei says.

Willacy is reserved for non-citizen prisoners – a mixture of immigrants convicted of drug offenses and those convicted of illegally re-entering the U.S. after deportation.

“At this point, they’re serving out sentences, so there really is no due process,” Takei says. “And one of the characteristics of these private prisons is that it is actually very difficult to even complain about conditions.”

This incident is the third major uprising in a Criminal Alien Requirement private prison in recent years, according to Takei. Listen to his interview in the player above.

This story was prepared with assistance by Jan Ross Piedad & Brenda Lau.