About 50 inmates were injured when a riot erupted inside the Federal Detention Center in downtown Houston yesterday, reports the Houston Chronicle. Officials said such fights are rare in federal facilities, which traditionally house nonviolent criminals. Guards used a “flash-bang,” or stun grenade, to break up the brawl. The device momentarily stuns people with “a lot of noise and bright light, but (there’s) no aftereffects like tear gas,” said an official. The facility housed about 960 inmates.
Houston lawyer Kent Schaffer was shocked to learn a riot took place at the facility. The prisoners in such facilities are more likely to be nonviolent drug offenders or white-collar criminals charged with fraud than dangerous felons. As federal authorities indict more criminals involved in organized syndicates and racketeering, that has changed. “You used to have a much better class of federal prisoners. Now you’re mixing documented gang members into a facility that’s traditionally been nonviolent,” he said. “It’s really changed the whole landscape of the federal court system so that it looks more and more like the state court system.”