4 inmates injured in fight at prison in Eloy; prison put on lockdown

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(Source; Corrections Corporation of America) (Source; Corrections Corporation of America)
(Source; Corrections Corporation of America) (Source; Corrections Corporation of America)
ELOY, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

A privately operated state prison in southern Arizona was put on lockdown Thursday as authorities investigated the cause of a fight that left four inmates with injuries. Those injuries are not life-threatening.

Arizona Department of Corrections spokesman Andrew Wilder says the fight that occurred Wednesday evening in a recreation yard at the Red Rock Correctional Center in Eloy was racially motivated and involved about 80 inmates.

Wilder says officers used pepper spray and verbal commands to break up the fight but that he doesn't immediately have information on the possible racial aspects.

The medium-security unit where the fight occurred houses 928 inmates and is one of two units at the Red Rock complex, which is operated by CoreCivic.

CoreCivic is a Nashville, Tennessee-based private prison company formerly known as Corrections Corp. of America.

[READ MORE: Corrections Corp. changing name to CoreCivic in rebrand push]

The City of Mesa is also looking at hiring CoreCivic to house pretrial inmates.

The council will consider a three-year contract, worth $4 to $5 million, with CoreCivic.

People arrested for misdemeanor or felony charges, who cannot afford to post bond, are currently housed in Maricopa County jails.

Mesa is considering hiring CoreCivic to transport the inmates to its facilities in Eloy or Florence.

[READ MORE: Mesa considers hiring private prison company]

"Many of them simply can't afford to post bond. Locking them up in a private prison where they could face serious harm will do more harm than good," said Alessandra Soler, of the ACLU.

The ACLU filed a records request on Tuesday, seeking all communications between Mesa officials and lobbyists or representatives for CoreCivic.

[RELATED: ACLU wants records of Mesa private prison contract talks]

"We want to get a better sense of the motivation for the city," Soler said.

The ACLU says this would be the first deal between a local city and the prison company.

"They're saying they're motivated by rising public safety costs, but there are huge implications here. This is a company with a notorious record of abuses and understaffing because they're trying to cut corners, to turn a profit," Soler said.

Mesa has the issue slated for discussion at a May 22 meeting.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this story.