Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility

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Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility
Location 950 High Street, Central Falls, Rhode Island
Capacity 771 males, 40 females
Opened 1993
Managed by Central Falls Detention Facility Corporation

The Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility is a publicly owned, privately operated prison in Rhode Island, opened in 1993 and operated by the non-profit Central Falls Detention Facility Corporation.[1] It is the corporation's only facility.


The facility was the very first privately run prison in the United States.[2] The prison was built in the town of Central Falls, which contributed funds towards its construction.[1] The prison was hoped to generate employment to replace industrial jobs from closed textile mills, although very few to no people from around the area are employed at the facility. Most inmates were non-Americans suspected of immigration offenses, who faced deportation, not criminal charges.[3]

Up until 2007 the prison was operated by Cornell Corrections.[4]

Death of Hiu Lui Ng[edit]

The facility stirred controversy in April 2009 following the death of a prisoner, when the chairman of the corporation that runs the prison, defended the prison with a comparison with the United States' Guantanamo Bay detention camps, in Cuba.[1]

Hiu Lui "Jason" Ng an immigrant from China was the captive who died.[1] Although the official cause of his death was cancer, he was also reported to have been abused in captivity.

The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency withdrew its remaining 153 prisoners from the facility in mid-December 2008, following an inquiry into his death.[1] The inquiry found that the prison authorities withheld his anti-cancer medication when he was too ill to crawl to his cell door to receive them, and that prison guards dragged him down the hallways, even though the prison doctors' opinion was that due to his fragile health he should be transported using a wheelchair.

The town's mayor, Charles Moreau, fired the corporation's chairman Charles Cooney for the comment, "Frankly, I’m looking at it like I’m running a Motel 6. I don’t care if it’s Guantanamo Bay. We want to fill the beds."

The prison continues to house inmates of the United States Marshal Service and of the United States Navy's General Court-Martial Convening Authority (GCMC).[5]


  1. ^ a b c d e "RI mayor fires prison leader for Guantanamo remark". Boston Herald. 2009-04-28. Archived from the original on 2009-04-29. 
  2. ^ James L L Dickerson (2010). Inside America's Concentration Camps: Two Centuries of Internment and Torture. Chicago Review Press. p. 260. ISBN 9781569767481. Retrieved 2013-09-06. The Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility, the first privately owned detention center in the country, was built to house about six hundred federal prisoners designated by the U.S. Marshals Service as meeting one of three criteria: detainees awaiting trial on immigration charges, detainees awaiting deportation, or detainees awaiting transportation into the Federal Bureau of Prisons. 
  3. ^ Zygmunt Bauman (2013). Living on Borrowed Time: Conversations with Citlali Rovirosa-Madrazo. John Wiley & Sons, 2013. ISBN 9780745659213. Retrieved 2013-09-06. Few in this threadbare little mill town gave much thought to the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility, the maximum-security jail beside the public ball fields at the edge of town. Even when it expanded and added barbed wire, Wyatt was just the backdrop for Little League games, its name stitched on the caps of the team it sponsored ... Then people began to disappear: the leader of a prayer group at St. Matthew's Roman Catholic Church; the father of a second grader at the public charter school; a woman who mopped floors in a Providence courthouse. After days of searching, their families found them locked up inside Wyatt -- only blocks from home, but in a separate world ... In this mostly Latino city, hardly anyone had realized that in addition to detaining the accused drug dealers and mobsters everyone heard about, the jail held hundreds of people charged with no crime -- people caught up in the nation's crackdown on illegal immigration. Fewer still knew that Wyatt was a portal into an expanding network of other jails, bigger and more remote, all propelling detainees towards deportation with little chance to protest. 
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Coordinates: 41°53′33″N 71°23′02″W / 41.89250°N 71.38389°W / 41.89250; -71.38389