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11 inmates still hospitalized in Avenal State Prison violence

September 22, 2009 | 11:32 am

An outbreak of violence caused by Latino gangs at Avenal State Prison in Central California left nearly a dozen inmates hospitalized today, including one in serious condition, officials said.

A total of 193 inmates were involved in the fighting that started in the yard Monday shortly after 8:30 p.m., said Terry Thornton, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Twenty-four inmates were injured so seriously they had to be hospitalized outside the prison that houses 6,395 minimum- and medium-security inmates, Thornton said. Eleven remained hospitalized today.

"They suffered puncture and slash wounds," she said.

Corrections officials recovered 30 inmate-made weapons as they quelled the disturbance in a part of the prison known as Facility 5. Thornton said even medical equipment became weapons.

"They used parts from wheelchairs and walkers," Thornton said.

The cause of the violence was attributed to rivalry between Latino gangs, officials said. The first outbreak occurred at 8:36 p.m. in the yard and three housing units and was quelled about 10:30 p.m.

Then another fight erupted in a different housing unit, Thornton said. The prison has been placed on a modified program with inmates kept in their dormitory housing.

-- Richard Winton