Former Correction Officer: Riot at New Folsom State Prison

1:29 AM, Dec 8, 2011   |    comments
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FOLSOM, CA - Four of the nine inmates injured at California State Prison, Sacramento in Folsom --aka New Folsom State Prison--have been treated, released from the hospital, and sent back to prison.

The riot broke out around 12:30 Wednesday afternoon in the exercise yard of the Level 4 maximum security area. Many of the inmates are murderers and gang members and are serving a life term. At least 9 inmates were taken to area hospitals, some of them with stab wounds from inmate-on-inmate fights.

Wednesday night, officers recovered five stabbing weapons and the facility remained on lockdown.

Authorities still don't know how the riot started. But they'll be reviewing surveillance video. Prison officials said Wednesday that the riot was not planned.

Some people question if there were enough guards. The spokesman for Folsom Prison says there was adequate staffing when the riot broke out.

"Anytime you have an incident of this magnitude and you have no staff injuries, and you know really minimal inmate injuries for the amount out there, I think staff did a great job," said Sgt.Tony Quinn with the California Dept of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

The riot happened in the C-facility recreation yard. That's the same facility of New Folsom State Prison where Christy Brent used to work as a correctional peace officer for nearly 7 years.

"When we worked there, when an incident went off, there were more officers than inmates," said Brent.

Brent worked there 18 years ago. She says the amount of training required for officers has substantially increased. She's not sure if the holding or classification areas have changed though.

Wednesday's riot lasted about 10 minutes. According to Brent, that's a substantial amount of time.

"I would say that is very long and probably due to inmates unwilling to comply with direct orders to get down on the ground face down," said Brent.

Once things were under control Wednesday afternoon and under lockdown, guards had prisoners sit in the yard so they could search for weapons---patting them down.

Some of the prison staff responding to the riot were hurt, but their injuries were minor.

Because some of the inmates were stabbed by fellow inmates, officers say it's critical they find the weapons used in wednesday's riot to prevent further attacks. Inmates in maximum security have made weapons using toothbrushes and razors according to prison officials.

Sacramento attorney Jeff Kravitz, who has worked on prisoners rights issues in the past, said that prison riots are rare.

"All of their (inmates') movements are almost always under surveillance. Their cells can be searched at any time. Lots of things happen in prisons because there's lots of people there. But (riots happen) less than people think," said Kravitz.

He said many prisons grapple with overcrowding, very serious criminals, and gangs.... but riots are rare because operations are very regimented and orderly.

Click HERE for earlier stories.

By Suzanne Phan,

Twitter: @suzannephan

Facebook: SuzannePhanNews10




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