A prisoner was shot and wounded and 12 others were sent to the hospital with “stab and slash wounds and head trauma” after a riot involving 60 inmates broke out Wednesday at a prison in Folsom, California, officials said.
Officers at California State Prison-Sacramento – which houses mostly maximum-security inmates – fired six bullets from a rifle during their efforts to stop the fighting, according to a statement on the prison’s website.
California’s state prisons have been plagued by hunger strikes, occasional violence and overcrowding and remain at more than 50 percent above capacity, despite a massive shifting of low-level offenders to county jails that began last year, Reuters reported.
The effort to shift the prison population followed a U.S. Supreme Court directive to cut the state inmate population to 110,000 after the nation’s top court ruled that overcrowding in the 33-prison system was causing “needless suffering and death.”
‘Blast dispersion rounds’
The prison statement said the riot began at 11:17 a.m. local time Wednesday (2:17 p.m. ET).
“Correctional peace officers used less-than-lethal force options including blast dispersion rounds to stop the riot. Officers also discharged six rounds from the Mini 14 rifle. One inmate suffered a gunshot wound and was taken to an area hospital for treatment,” the statement said.
“Another 12 inmates were taken to area hospitals for treatment of injuries including stab and slash wounds and head trauma. Four of the 12 were treated and returned to the prison. Several other inmates suffered minor injuries and were treated at the prison,” it added.
Four weapons that had been made by the inmates were found by officers, the statement said. No staff members were injured.
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation sent a “Deadly Force Investigation Team” to investigate the use of the rifle and a review board will also conduct a “full and complete review of the incident,” the statement said.
Johnny Cash concert
The prison, which opened in 1986, houses 2,658 inmates, who are mostly maximum-security inmates serving long sentences and “those who have proved to be management problems at other institutions,” it added.
Also known as “New Folsom,” it is adjacent to Folsom State Prison, which is older and better known because of a famous concert there by singer Johnny Cash in 1968.
Thousands of California prisoners have taken part in waves of hunger strikes since last July, when inmates at Pelican Bay State Prison began protesting against isolation units. Those strikes rippled throughout the rest of the state prisons system.
NBC station KCRA, which broadcast video of inmates sitting outside apparently with their hands tied, reported that the prison was hit by a riot in May 2011 that sent six inmates to outside hospitals. Two of those inmates were seriously hurt.