Maricopa County jails locked down over racial tension

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PHOENIX -- Sheriff Joe Arpaio has ordered that all Maricopa County jails, which house approximately 10,000 inmates, be immediately placed on lockdown over reported racial tension.

MCSO Jails locked down

Maricopa County jails locked down over racial tension - Sheriff Joe Arpaio has ordered that all Maricopa County jails, which house approximately 10,000 inmates, be immediately placed on lockdown over reported racial tension.

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According to a news release, intelligence officials received information that inmates were planning large-scale assaults that are racially motivated.

"I am sending a message to these inmates that I run the jail system, not the inmates," Arpaio said. "I will not condone inmates targeting each other because of their race."

Visitation, inmate phone calls, and all non-essential movement will be restricted until Arpaio lifts the lockdown.

Sheriff's SWAT units will be standing by to assist if a disturbance breaks out.

Inmates will only be allowed to eat sack lunches and will only be able to leave their cells for court appearances.

The planned assault is due to the inmates' dislike for bunking with other inmates who are not of the same race, according to the news release.

The racial breakdown of the Maricopa County jail system indicates that 44 percent of the inmates are Hispanic, 37 percent are white and 14 percent are black. More than half of the Hispanic inmates are illegal immigrants.

"This is a proactive move on our part to ensure the safety of all inmates," Arpaio said.

The lockdown is expected to last until it is determined that the tension has subsided.