LOS ANGELES, Aug. 9 (Xinhua) -- A riot in a large prison in southern
California has wounded 250 inmates, among whom 55 were taken to hospitals,
prison officials said Sunday.
The riot, touched off by fighting between black and Hispanic prisoners,
broke out Saturday night and lasted 11 hours before it was put down, said Mark
Hargrove, spokesman of the California Institution for Men in Chino, about 40
miles (64 km) east of Los Angeles.
The fighting erupted in one barracks and quickly spread to six others,
Prisoners ripped pieces of metal from lockers, destroyed beds and broke off
pipes to use them as weapons, Hargrove said. A fire broke out in the chaos,
burning down one dormitory, he said.
No prison employees were injured, no deaths were reported, and no inmates
escaped, prison officials said.
Damage to the 1,300-inmate medium-security prison was "significant and
extensive," said Hargrove. One housing unit was virtually destroyed and the
other housing areas were so badly damaged that they were uninhabitable, he said.
By Sunday evening, the barracks were clear. More than 250 inmates suffered
injuries, including small cuts, serious stab wounds and head trauma, Hargrove
Of the 55 inmates sent to hospitals, 17 remained hospitalized by Sunday
evening, he said.
The disturbance was the prison's most violent since a December 2006
uprising, in which 200 inmates rioted for 90 minutes. That racially charged
incident was touched off by a fight between a Latino and an African-American.
With more than 150,000 inmates, the California prison system is one of the
most crowded in the nation, with many of its facilities holding more than double
the number of inmates they were designed for.
Last week, a panel of three federal judges called conditions " appalling"
and ruled that the state must shrink its prison population by nearly 43,000
inmates over the next two years to meet constitutional standards.
Following a 2005 Supreme Court decision that found automatic segregation to
be illegal, Chino and other California prisons are moving away from the historic
practice of separating inmates by race.
Hargrove said inmates could now opt out of segregation and a growing number
of black, Latino and white prisoners shared cells, increasing racial tensions in
All prisons in southern California were put on lockdown as a result of the
riot. Visitation was suspended until further notice.
On Sunday, investigators still were determining what caused the melee and
what sparked the fire.