At about 8:20 p.m. Saturday evening, a riot erupted in a 1,300-man, medium-security prison after a fight between African American and Latino inmates. After the unit was locked down, 55 inmates were taken to hospitals from the California Institution for Men in Chino.
According to the L.A.Times, anarchy ensued and lasted about four hours in the dormitory-style barracks of the Reception Center West.
Inmates ripped locker doors from the walls, broke pipes and demolished beds, arming themselves with the broken metal pieces. A fire was somehow sparked in the mist of the melee and left one dormitory so badly burnt it is no longer suitable living space.
The riot marks the most significant and violent upheaval in the prison since December 2006 when 200 inmates rioted, once again, sparked by Latino and African American friction.
California’s prisons are said to the the most crowded in the nation. “Appalling,” is the word a panel of three federal judges used to describe the conditions of the prisons whose population must be shrunk by 43,000 inmates in the next two years to fulfill 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.
Inmates may now share cells with prisoners of different races. The barracks involved in the rioting had been fully integrated.
More than 80 officers surrounded the barracks and demanded the inmates come out. Once the chaos was subdued the officers has used pepper spray and foam projectiles to remove the prisoners who had locked themselves inside.
Around 7 a.m. the barracks were empty and more than 250 inmates had suffered injuries ranging from minor cuts to serious stab wounds and head trauma. Hargrove confirmed more than 17 of the injured remained hospitalized as of Sunday evening.
As a result of the riot, visitation was suspended indefinitely and all prisoners were placed on lockdown.