One correctional officer was hospitalized in what the Idaho Department of Correction said was a Friday night “group disturbance” involving Idaho inmates that are being housed at a Texas prison.
The incident took place at the Eagle Pass Correctional Facility in Texas that is home to 548 Idaho inmates.
The Idaho Department of Correction houses some male Idaho offenders there because the Gem State’s prisons are overcrowded. A department spokesman said what happened at the Texas facility was not a riot, but a disturbance that required a prison tactical unit.
The incident began around 6:30 p.m. Friday, when two correctional officers at the Texas prison spotted an inmate kitchen worker attempting to steal food at the facility’s kitchen, IDOC spokesman Jeff Ray said. Staff ordered the inmate, whose name was not disclosed, to surrender the items and he refused.
Staff then took the inmate to a holding cell where he threw his shirt and the food at an officer.
“After the inmate was escorted back to his housing unit, he was told he was being moved to restrictive housing for assaulting the officer,” Ray said in an email to the Statesman on Monday. “He was also told he was losing his job as a kitchen worker and would receive disciplinary action for assaulting staff and stealing food.”
It was then that other inmates in the housing unit, which holds 44 people, became defiant.
“They put towels over their heads and covered security cameras with toilet paper,” Ray said. “They blocked the entrances to the housing unit with property boxes and garbage cans filled with water.”
The Texas prison administrator urged the inmates in the unit to return to their cells, but 11 of the 44 Idaho inmates refused to comply. After those 11 refused to comply, a prison tactical team used pepper spray and moved the defiant inmates into restrictive house, Ray said.
One staff member was taken to the hospital for treatment on an injured shoulder, but no inmates were injured. Damage to the facility was minimal, with fire alarms being damaged and an exercise bike being destroyed.
Ray said decisions about disciplinary action against the 11 inmates are pending.