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Major Incident at Cornell's Big Spring Unit

A major disturbance apparently occurred over the weekend at Houston-based Cornell Companies' Flightline Correctional Center in Big Spring. According to a story on News West 9,

Questions still remain unanswered after a prisoner fire and riot on Friday night. Facility officials are being very cautious of what information is being disclosed.

Big Spring authorities rushed to the scene of a riot and fire from the Flightline Correctional Center near the Big Spring airport. The facility takes prisoners from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Services, but since it is a privately owned facility the plan for police was to secure a perimeter.

"The only reason we are here, our only purpose is if spills outside of the fenced facility," Sergeant Tony Everett, with the Big Spring Police Department, said.

In total, about 15 police officers stayed outside managing traffic while Big Spring firefighters went inside.

"My understating is that may be one or two buildings were on fire," Everett said.

Several ambulances left the scene towards Scenic Mountain Medical Center where family members were advised not to disclose any information. But the mother of one of the injured employee was thankful to hear her son was doing better.

"I feel a whole lot better, I feel relieved that he is O.K. Like I said earlier, I just left it in the hands of God and he is the one who pulled me through," Inez Heins, Mother of a facility Employee, said.

NewsWest 9 also received a couple of calls from relatives who say that seven facility staff were injured and were treated for minor injuries. According to officials from the correctional center the riot never posed danger to the public. (emphasis mine)

Three things strike me about this story. First, what were the conditions issues that sparked this disturbance? Private immigrant detention facilities all over Texas have been dogged by allegations of mismanagement, negligent or absent medical and mental health care, sexual assault, and abuse. It would be very interesting to hear what was behind this incident.

Second, the fact that it's operated by a private prison corporation is shielding the facility from public view and accountability, one of the inherent problems with private prison corporations.

Third, this story should be a warning to communities that finance or allow the construction of private prisons in their communities. When private prisons have problems, the use local public resources to fix them. In this case it took 15 additional police officers outside, firefighters inside, the ambulance and hospital costs, etc. It's unclear whether Cornell is offering to reimburse the community for the costs associated with this incident. We'll keep you posted.


I have a family member at this facility. The fire was not in his building, nor did they know anything about the riot incident. Yet they storm into his building slamming most inmates to the ground, in the process, breaking his nose. Obviously everyone went into lock down. However since then, the facility has not been feeding them regularly. He has been lucky to get 2 meals a day, consisting of 2 boiled eggs and a hot dog bun. No phone contact with anyone, no canteen, etc. A family member called after not hearing from him in 4 days. We asked when will they receive phone privileges again, response "we don't know,maybe not for 30 days". We asked, does the FBOP know about this?...hesitating, then answered, "yes". We asked can he contact his consulate about this? answer, "no". Asked them, if it was legal for them not to feed their prisoners? Their response was, "we are doing the best we can" and then hung up on us! If the facility has nothing to hide, why the big hush-hush? Could it be the new increased contract they have just received from the FBOP? This is really about the stockholders, financial gains and contracts...and nothing to do with justice and protocol. Who police the police? I would like to no more, but probably never will.

I was told by an inmate at this facility that the riot was the result of a dispute between different groups. The spark was a dispute over a bottom bunk being claimed by a black person. When he did not relent, he was beaten into a coma and died several weeks later. Until recently, they have been in lock down and all inmate work programs were cancelled. I have no facts on this matter, only what I was told. The very poor food and inadequate health care are very big issues. nightrider

It's hard to get information about email or phone services at the facilities from the company's website, but you could call the facility at 432-263-8806 and ask.  I'd be very curious to hear how your mom finds the facility, so please keep me posted.  I can be reached through the contat form. 

 Hey there I did phone No they dont have email. Does anyone know if they use wetern union for $ service I know the federal ones do but does CI big Springs??

Look for online comisariato for Big Springs Correctional Center


Is there a difference between CI Big Spring, and FCI Big Spring? I keep getting the FCI one. Which one is private and where is it? Is it horrible like I've seen on tv being private or has it been better?

Thanks to anyone who can answer this.  How do you fly in, from which airport would you land from California?

i just got released from there and its a piece of shit they feed bad food and dont treat your medical conditions and since its private they dont follow the rules as the BOP states its hard to do time there satff also treats inmates like crap

To any reader with a loved one imprisoned in Big Springs.

Unfortunately, this is a private prison and the people in there are immigrants mostly from Latin America.  And yes, they are treated worse than animals.  Facility is not well conditioned, food is crappy, water is crappy, medical services is crappy and treatment is demenial.  And many more things.  Obviously, those who work there will say the contrary. One could not expect less than that.  They have to be loyal to their company plus what do they care, it's not them in there.  I know this email is going to make many people angry and others worried.  But, it's the crude sad reality of how we human beings opress so badly our own kind just because one did something wrong.  This is a prison for minor offenses so why are they treated worse than animals? You do not have to respond. Too bad The U.S. Government does not keep a close eye on these type of private prisons.  It's all about saving the most you can by giving the least customer service to inmates just because and gaining lots of profits.  Sad how money makes us lose our humanity towards those who have already lost their most valuable treasure: Freedom! That's punishment enough! But there's one thing I believe strongly: Nothing Evil prevails forever!  Someday, the whole world will know about this and it will be very shameful...

When I wrote demenial I meant Abbusive.

i was released there not long ago and the staff there treat u like crap, i was in the fci prior to being transported to these private prisons and the are harsh with the hispanics..

I haven't seen my father since I was 8 years old...I am currently 20 years old and I would really want to get in contact with him...I knw he sends letters to my sister and brother but lately I haven't received anything from him.... My sister said he was at this location so I would love more information on him.... His birthday is coming up in 4 days and I wanna really talk to him.... Please let me knw how to contact him!!!

I haven't seen my father since I was 8 years old...I am currently 20 years old and I would really want to get in contact with him...I knw he sends letters to my sister and brother but lately I haven't received anything from him.... My sister said he was at this location so I would love more information on him.... His birthday is coming up in 4 days and I wanna really talk to him.... Please let me knw how to contact him!!!

 The U.S Department of Justice need to review the Big Spring Prison staff system.
Reference; incident Report number 2426244
inmate statement
I came out of the building and was told to tuck my shirt in by officer Lancaster. I immediately complied,but told him it was not my house... Lancaster ask me to shut and threw his person bag at me.
As my defense I asked the for the video to be kept.
Witnesses on my behalf appeared,and commented on the disrespect from the staff.
My staff representative stated she checked with SIS staff and there is no video to review.
Big staff evidence : officer Rodriguez, Sanchez.
Note: confidential information was used by Discipline Hearing Office in support of finding but was not revealed to me.
DHO Finding
Violated Code
224A ; assaulting any person/ attemped 3/28/13
Discipline Hearing Officer
J. Rosiles

To all the people who feel sooo terrible about this incident and others I would just like to say that when you only hear one side of the story it is usually the side you start beleiving. I work in the Federal System and let me tell you, we are scrutenized for everything we do. We have no rights as staff and my simple solution is, let em out. Everyone complains when their families are torn apart by rapist, murderers, drug dealers, child molestors and every other kind of criminal on the street but when they hear he only gets 2 eggs and a hot dog bun for lunch all the sudden their hearts bleed. Get with it people. Do you wanna watch these guys with nothing more than a radio and a set of hand cuffs? Where all of us work in a building filled with 200-300 inmates to one staff member. At any time we can be assaulted and killed so no problem right? We signed up for it right? Yes we did. Because not a lot of people will. My firm beleif is that SOME of these inmates private prisons and others can be rehabilitated, but most wanna get out and keep gang banging. They tell us that. And if a staff member gets 30 stitches in his face from an inmate who doesnt take his meds and we cant force them, then so be it. But that is the truth. They are not a big sac of puppies. Most have had a hundred chances to abide by our laws and CHOOSE not to. Lets be real. Watch the news once in a while and you will see the world is not what it used to be. Tweakers are taking over, kids are killin each other, that is if they will put down their phones long enough. Im sure the jails in latin america are a lot nicer. By the way the local resources used to protect the public around the prisons is also paid by the staff members at ALL prisons. Its called taxes.