50 Inmates Injured in Riot at Federal Detention Center in Houston

Authorities were investigating what caused a riot that injured about 50 inmates at the Federal Detention Center in downtown Houston.

One unidentified man was taken to the hospital with a head injury, said District Chief Tommy Dowdy, a Houston Fire Department spokesman. The other wounded prisoners were treated late Tuesday inside the administrative facility, the Houston Chronicle reports.

Houston police and firefighters responded to the facility Tuesday evening after receiving reports that up to 80 prisoners on the sixth floor were fighting, Dowdy said.

Guards used a stun grenade called a "flash-bang" to stop the brawl. The device momentarily stuns people with noise and bright light, but without aftereffects, Dowdy said.

"The institution staff responded quickly and effectively and all of the inmates were returned to their cells inside the unit," said Traci Billingsley, a spokeswoman for the Federal Bureau of Prisons. "All the units are now secure."

None of the inmates' injuries appeared to be life-threatening and no guards were hurt, Billingsley said.

Typically, prisoners in such federal facilities are nonviolent drug offenders or white-collar criminals. But as federal authorities indict more criminals involved in organized syndicates and racketeering, that has changed, said Houston lawyer Kent Schaffer.

"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.

The facility housed about 960 male and female pre-trial and hold-over inmates last week.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.