As many as 2,800 federal prisoners will be moved to other institutions after inmates seized control of part of a prison in South Texas, causing damage that made the facility "uninhabitable," an official said Saturday.
Ed Ross, a spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, said the inmates who had taken control are "now compliant" but that negotiations were ongoing Saturday in an effort for staff to "regain complete control" of Willacy County Correctional Center.
"The situation is not resolved, though we're moving toward a peaceful resolution," FBI spokesman Erik Vasys said Saturday evening.
Willacy County Sheriff Larry Spence said there were no hostages involved in the standoff and only minor injuries reported. Spence said the inmates "have pipes they can use as weapons."
Management & Training Corp., the private contractor that operates the center for the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, said about 2,000 inmates became disruptive Friday because they're upset with medical services and refused to perform work duties. A spokeswoman said prison administrators met with inmates Friday to address their concerns but that the prisoners "breached" their housing units and reached the recreation yard.
The inmates there are described are described as "low-level" offenders who are primarily immigrants in the U.S. illegally. A 2014 report by the American Civil Liberties described tents used to house them as not "only foul, cramped and depressing, but also overcrowded." It said inmates complained their medical concerns were ignored by staff and corners were routinely cut regarding health care.