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Guards shoot some prisoners to quell California riot

By Reuters
Wednesday, December 7, 2011 21:29 EDT
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SACRAMENTO (Reuters) – Nine prisoners were wounded, some of them shot by guards, during a riot of 50 inmates at a California prison on Wednesday that was eventually quelled, authorities said.

Some corrections officers also were slightly injured during the melee at California State Prison-Sacramento, said Terry Thornton, a spokeswoman with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

The riot at the maximum security prison was contained within minutes, Thornton said. The prison is located just outside the state capital in the nearby town of Represa.

At least nine inmates wounded in the riot were transported to Sacramento area hospitals, corrections officials said.

At least two inmates were shot by corrections officers, Thornton said. The other prisoners suffered blunt force trauma or stab wounds from contraband weapons wielded by other inmates, she said.

“The officers were not the targets,” Thornton said.

Corrections officers used pepper spray and rubber bullets, and resorted to firing live rounds to prevent major injuries or the loss of life, Thornton said.

An investigation will look into the cause of the riot and the use of lethal force by officers, she said.

Steve Fama, a lawyer at the Berkeley-based Prison Law Office which represents inmates, said in a statement that such disturbances result in large part from “the crowding that California’s prisons have suffered through for decades.”

“That and the absence of programs in the prisons that might give prisoners something to do, because there’s a lot of idleness in state prisons due to budget cuts and the shift toward more punitive measures,” he said.

In May, two inmates suffered multiple stab wounds in another riot at the same prison that involved 150 inmates, officials said.

The 25-year-old facility houses about 2,800 inmates and employs more than 1,700 staff members.

The sprawling facility near the famed Folsom State Prison mainly houses maximum security inmates serving long sentences, and those who have proved to be management problems at other institutions, officials said.

(Writing by Alex Dobuzinskis: Editing by Greg McCune)

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