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Authorities quell riot at Calipatria State Prison

December 11, 2012 |  4:09 pm

Prison guards used foam-tipped bullets and pepper spray to quell a riot that broke out when a prisoner began stabbing a group of fellow inmates on the exercise yard, the California Department of Corrections said Tuesday.

The riot that broke out just after 6:30 p.m. Saturday remains under investigation, according to a department press release.

"The incident involved more than 115 inmates on the Facility “A” General Population Level IV (maximum custody) Yard and resulted in nine inmates being transported to area hospitals with moderate to serious injuries," the statement read.  "No staff was hurt during the incident that drew trained response teams from other areas of the prison to assist in the effort to stop inmates from fighting with each other."

The incident reportedly began when an inmate with an makeshift weapon approached a group of five other prisoners  in the yard and attacked them. Corrections officers ordered all the inmates to get on the ground, but the group of five prisoners subdued the attacker and began beating him.

As other inmates ran toward the group, a guard fired a warning round from a mini-14 rifle. Corrections officers then then used pepper spray and foam-tipped rounds to quell the fighting. However, once the riot ended, a second disturbance began in a dining facility and kitchen. That fight lasted roughly seven minutes before it was stopped.

The prison remains on a "modified program," meaning inmate movement has been limited to permit further investigation, according to officials.

The prison is located east of the Salton Sea, in Imperial County. It houses 3,500 inmates. Of those,  1,700 are serving life sentences, and 594 are serving life without the possibility of parole.


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-- Monte Morin