U.S. Prisons on Lockdown Nationwide
U.S. Bureau of Prisons officials locked down all 120 federal prisons yesterday after brutal fights at a facility in Beaumont, Texas, left two inmates dead and several more injured.
The New York Times reported that the fights included members of the Salvadoran street gang MS-13, which was the impetus for the lockdown. Nationwide lockdowns, in which inmates are generally confined to their cells, are relatively unusual, indicating the Bureau of Prisons had concerns that the violence could spread to other facilities.
The federal prison system was placed on a nationwide lockdown on Monday after a gang fight at a high-security penitentiary in Beaumont, Texas, left two inmates dead. https://t.co/cGXTCeHRKf— The New York Times (@nytimes) February 1, 2022
“In an abundance of caution, the Bureau of Prisons is securing our facilities as a temporary measure to ensure the good order of our institutions,” said Bureau of Prisons spokesperson Kristie Bershears in a statement sent to media outlets. “We anticipate this security measure will be short-lived.”
The brief statement did not provide additional details on the reason for the nationwide response.
The two prisoners killed in the conflict were Guillermo Riojas, 54, and Andrew Pineda, 36. Both are affiliated with gang activity. Riojas was serving 38 years for carjacking and interfering with interstate commerce, and Pineda was serving six-and-a-half years for racketeering. Both men had been involved in previous altercations while incarcerated.
The Associated Press (AP) reported that the incident is one of several violent episodes at U.S. federal prisons in the last few months. The AP also said the Beaumont facility, in particular, has had troubles, including escaped inmates and severe staffing issues.
The Bureau of Prisons has been under pressure recently. In January, agency director Miacheal Carvahal resigned after an AP investigation in November 2021 detailing abuses from federal prison guards and other staff.
“More than 100 federal prison workers have been arrested, convicted, or sentenced for crimes since the start of 2019,” the AP wrote, “including a warden indicted for sexual abuse, an associate warden charged with murder, guards taking cash to smuggle drugs and weapons, and supervisors stealing property such as tires and tractors.”