Immigration detainees revolt in Arizona prison

On Dec. 31, immigration detainees jailed in the South Special Housing Unit at Eloy Detention Center in Eloy, Ariz., began throwing furniture at prison staff and causing property damage in the unit, according to a Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) press release cited in a local news report. At the time of the incident, there were approximately 34 detainees assigned to the Special Housing Unit. According to the news report, staff used chemical agents against the detainees to force them back into their cells. Jail officials placed the entire facility on lockdown status, meaning that detainees were restricted to their cells until further notice.

The Eloy Detention Center is a 1,500-bed facility owned and operated by CCA, the largest private for-profit prison company in the US. CCA contracts with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency to house immigration detainees. ICE officials were on site at the facility at the time of the incident. “We would commend CCA for their professionalism in getting a handle on the situation very quickly, and preventing something more serious from happening,” said ICE Public Affairs Officer Vincent Picard.

Surrounding CCA facilities were called to assist during the incident and the Eloy Police Department and Emergency Medical Service (EMS) personnel were notified. According to Eloy paramedics who arrived on the scene with two ambulances, only one officer was reportedly injured; he was treated at CCA’s Saguaro facility for a bump on the head, and sent to Casa Grande Regional Hospital as a precautionary measure. (Casa Grande Valley Newspapers, Jan. 2, 7)

From Immigration News Briefs, Jan. 17

See our last posts on the politics of immigration and the struggle in Arizona.