The state of New Mexico transferred 109 inmates to a super-maximum security prison in Virginia today after a guard was stabbed to death in an uprising at a privately run prison.
The new Wallens Ridge Correctional Facility, a state prison in Big Stone Gap, Va., was chosen because it is designed to hold the most dangerous inmates.
"Given the history and destructive nature of these inmates, I think it's important to send them a message that if you mess with the bull, you're going to get the horns," said Rob Perry, New Mexico's corrections secretary.
The inmates were transferred from the medium-security Guadalupe County Correctional Facility, where prisoners angry about a lockdown took over common living areas for three hours Tuesday before authorities regained control. A guard was fatally stabbed and an inmate was stabbed and wounded.
The prisoners believed to have taken part in killing the guard were sent to a maximum-security area of a state prison in New Mexico. Others believed to have taken part in the uprising were transferred to Virginia.
The Guadalupe County prison is operated by Florida-based Wackenhut Corrections Corp. Perry said the transfer also was a warning to Wackenhut to improve its management.
"I think it's important to send a message to all of the parties involved," he said. "The state of New Mexico's not going to tolerate prison violence, homicide and riots, and this is the response."
Four inmates and a guard have died in Wackenhut-run prisons in New Mexico in the past nine months. In addition, two guards were injured in a disturbance Aug. 17 at a prison run by Corrections Corp. of America.
Wackenhut spokesman Pat Cannan said company officials are "concentrating our efforts to bringing the situation under control" at their two New Mexico prisons.
The four inmate killings are more than all of New Mexico's state-run prisons have had in any single year since 1985. The killing of the guard was the first in New Mexico since 1987.
New Mexico houses about a third of its nearly 5,200 male inmates at privately operated prisons.
The state is paying Virginia $64 a day to house each of the transferred inmates.
After the inmates arrived in Virginia on a U.S. Marshals Service jet designed to transport inmates, vehicles taking them to their new prison were involved in a minor accident on a mountainous two-lane road. No one was injured and no one escaped.