California prison still locked down; inmates shifted

Associated Press / August 11, 2009

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CHINO, Calif. - A state prison remained locked down yesterday, and more than 1,000 prisoners were being moved after a weekend riot that burned a wooden dormitory and injured 175 inmates

Saturday’s fight at the California Institution for Men in Chino left 55 prisoners seriously injured, but only 30 remained hospitalized yesterday with the injuries not believed to be life-threatening, said state prisons spokeswoman Terry Thornton.

Thornton said more than 1,000 inmates were being temporarily moved to other facilities because of damage to some buildings, most of them to a vacant youth detention center.

The Chino prison holds 5,900 men, almost twice what it was designed for. Thornton said it was unclear what role overcrowding played in the riot.

“Overcrowding is a problem, but to make the assumption that it caused this incident, I don’t think you can make that assumption,’’ she said.

A prison spokesman said earlier that tension between black and Hispanic prisoners may have sparked the fight.

There were 120 prisoners treated for injuries at the scene and another 55 were taken to a hospital for treatment of serious injuries, such as stabbing and head wounds.

Chino and nine other Southern California prisons, nearly a third of the 33 state prisons, were closed to visitors, because staff members from those prisons were temporarily shifted to Chino to help clean up the riot’s aftermath.

Thornton said the fighting began at 8:30 p.m. Saturday and went on until about midnight. However, staff needed until 7 a.m. Sunday to clear the last building, she said.