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Scores of prisoners are hospitalised after California prison riot

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-08-10

A riot at a prison in southern California left 55 inmates hospitalised with serious injuries and more than 200 others with minor injuries, a spokesman for the state prison at Chino has reported.

AFP - A riot at a prison in southern California left 55 inmates hospitalised with serious injuries and more than 200 others with minor injuries, a spokesman for the state prison said Sunday.

Fighting erupted Saturday night among inmates in a medium security section of the California Institute for Men in the town of Chino, 35 miles (56 kilometers) east of Los Angeles, authorities said in a statement.

"More than 200 inmates have been treated by medical staff at the institution for minor non-life threatening injuries and 55 inmates, with more serious injuries, have been transported to a local outside hospitals for treatment," he said.

US media had earlier reported that 40 people were injured in the riot, which ocurred in a part of the prison that housed an estimated 1,300 inmates.

"Correctional staff immediately responded, formed into tactical units, and systematically regained control of the housing units," the statement said.

Using batons, pepper spray and unspecified "lethal force options," they brought the prison housing unit under control by 7 am Sunday, it said.

"No staff were injured as a result of the incident.  It has been reported that significant property damage was sustained, including one housing unit that sustained extensive damage due to fire," he said.

The cause of the fighting was under investigation.

Authorities said all prisons in southern California were placed on lock-down Sunday in response to the riot, and all visits have been suspended until further notice.

California has one of the most overcrowded and underfunded prison systems in the country, prompting three federal judges last week to order it to develop a plan to free some 40,000 prisoners in the next two years.

With a population of 150,000 inmates in 33 prisons, the prison system has been the subject of repeated charges of overcrowding and medical mistreatment in a state where minor offenses are punished with long prison sentences.

Date created : 2009-08-10