California

Correctional officers fire 9 shots to put down 200-inmate riot at California prison

In this Aug. 17, 2011, photo, correctional officers keep watch on inmates on the recreation yard at Pelican Bay State Prison near Crescent City, Calif.
In this Aug. 17, 2011, photo, correctional officers keep watch on inmates on the recreation yard at Pelican Bay State Prison near Crescent City, Calif. Associated Press file photo, 2011

Correctional officers at Soledad State Prison fired nine rounds as warning shots during their response to a 200-inmate riot Thursday morning, according to a California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation news release.

The large-scale riot started at about 11 a.m. at the prison, which houses 5,400 medium- and minimum-security inmates and is formally known as California Correctional Training Facility.

Responding officers used chemical agents and “non-lethal weapons” in addition to firing the nine shots from two state-issued Ruger Mini-14 rifles.

One group of inmates responded to the shots by lying down, while another backed away and ignored orders to lie down, according to the release.

The second group of inmates eventually complied, lying down after staff from two other facilities and from Salinas Valley State Prison responded.

Eight inmates were injured badly enough to require treatment at outside hospitals, sustaining puncture wounds, cuts and bruises, according to the release. About 50 others sustained minor injuries and were treated by medical staff.

Four inmate-made weapons were recovered. The Office of the Inspector General, a corrections department deadly force investigations team and a deadly force review board are conducting investigations into the melee, according to the release.

No prison staffers were injured.

In 2011, California was ordered to reduce its prison population. Since then, California's Central Valley inmate murders have tripled and suicides have risen 23%. Our investigation, OverCorrection: Crisis in California jails, publishes April 23.

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Wes Venteicher anchors The Bee’s popular State Worker coverage in the newspaper’s Capitol Bureau. He covers taxes, pensions, unions, state spending and California government. A Montana native, he reported on health care and politics in Chicago and Pittsburgh before joining The Bee in 2018.
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