CROWLEY COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)– A settlement for nearly 200 prisoners injured in the prison riot at the Crowley County Correctional Facility nearly nine years ago was announced Wednesday morning.
The settlement totals $600,000 for those inmates who were injured during the nearly six hour riot the night of July 20, 2004.
Thirteen inmates were taken to the hospital after the riots at the prison located about 45 miles east of Pueblo.
At the time of the riot, the prison housed inmates from Colorado, Wyoming and Washington state. The prison currently only houses inmates from Colorado.
The rioting began when more than 100 inmates refused to return to their cells. Then the situation escalated as inmates set fires and attacked other prisoners.
Guards used tear gas and rubber bullets to try to get the inmates under control. The riot was limited to prison grounds. No inmates escaped.
Court documents reveal that supervisors at the prison ignored a warning that conditions were ripe for a riot despite those signs coming from both inmates and correctional officers.
The problem was that hundreds of prisoners that were transferred from Washington state were angry about being so far away from home. They were also upset that an 18-year-old transferred inmate was placed into isolation earlier that day.
Inmates said they were cuffed, dragged through water and left to sit in their cells that were then flooded with water.
The Crowley County Correctional Facility is operated by the private company Corrections Corporation of America, at the time of the riot it was the nation’s largest incarceration for profit company. CCA continues to operate the facility.
The inmates said they have been pushing for change in the private prison system.
“I would gladly take no money if I knew that CCA was going to be no more, not only in Colorado but everywhere. It really should be up to states to run their own prisons, to supply their own correctional officers and to keep their own inmates in check instead of having someone who has labeled you as a number and is just trying to earn money off of you,” said plaintiff Vance Adams.
CCA released this statement: “Today’s agreement brings to a close a now eight-year-old legal matter. It was an obvious economic decision to reach this agreement rather than engage in the expense of defending 200 individual claims. We stand by our position that our staff acted appropriately.
We take the safety and security of our staff and the inmates entrusted to our care very seriously. CCA continues to operate the Crowley County Correctional Facility, which is accredited by the independent American Correctional Association with a score of 100 percent and has a strong record of service. We appreciate the longstanding and ongoing partnership we have with the state of Colorado.”