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Keri Blakinger
Last night there was a riot at the Briscoe Unit in South Texas. Roughly ninety prisoners took an officer hostage. Several sources have confirmed this, though the agency has not responded to requests for comment.
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Keri Blakinger Jul 19
Replying to @keribla
According to one source, preliminary info is that is started when prisoners demanding more phone & out of cell time took a 21-year-old officer hostage.
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Keri Blakinger Jul 19
Replying to @keribla
Another source - an ex-agency official - said that may have escalated into a use of force before the violence broke out. Agency has not responded either way.
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Keri Blakinger Jul 19
Replying to @keribla
Sources say the officer was taken hostage when prisoners blocked the door and would not let him leave. Unclear why other officers were not present or left.
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Keri Blakinger Jul 19
Replying to @keribla
This went on for at least half an hour. I’m told no injuries, but varying accounts about violence. Unclear if anyone was armed, or with what.
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Keri Blakinger Jul 19
Replying to @keribla
Eventually the warden started negotiating a truce and the prisoners backed away and let the CO go. Afterward, officers gassed the housing area repeatedly.
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Keri Blakinger Jul 19
Replying to @keribla
Then, they came in and handcuffed everyone - 90+ people - and shipped them off to Connally and McConnell.
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Keri Blakinger Jul 19
Replying to @keribla
As prisoners' families began hearing the news, they started called officials & the unit and are being told only that the unit is on restriction due to a riot and not due to COVID.
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Keri Blakinger Jul 19
Replying to @keribla
Background: There are relatively few COVID cases at Briscoe. So far, there are only two prisoners positive and 4 employees. But families say that testing just began last week.
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Keri Blakinger Jul 19
Replying to @keribla
Worth noting that the accounts as to what TDCJ has begun circulating (not publicly) and what staff are saying privately differ in some key ways. I’ve tried to keep to the middle ground in what I’ve tweeted here.
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Keri Blakinger Jul 19
Replying to @keribla
BUT, some of these differences are significant. I will try to continue untangling them. Stay tuned for updates. DM are open if you have additional details.
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Keri Blakinger Jul 19
Replying to @keribla
This all comes after experts and advocates have been warning for months about the risk of unrest during these long restrictions & lockdowns.
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Keri Blakinger Jul 19
Replying to @keribla
In some units, prisoners have been setting fires in protest, as I reported several months ago:
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Keri Blakinger Jul 19
Replying to @keribla
At one unit, a prisoner killed his cellie and then hid the body for three days, as I reported last week:
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Keri Blakinger Jul 19
Replying to @keribla
Based on everything I'm seeing and being sent, these are not isolated incidents. Stay tuned for updates.
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Keri Blakinger Jul 19
Replying to @keribla
UPDATE: A TDCJ spokesman has confirmed much of this, except he says it lasted for four hours and that it involved roughly 50 inmates. I'm continuing to get more tips and sources, so will update more thoroughly when I have more.
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