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Sunday, December 31, 2006

Race riot put down at California state prison
Bernard Hibbitts at 8:01 PM ET

[JURIST] The California state correctional facility in Chino [official website] was under lockdown Sunday after prison authorities put down a major race riot that broke out Saturday morning reportedly setting blacks and Hispanic inmates against each other in one of the worst instances of prison rioting in the state in years. A California Corrections Department [official website] spokesperson said that guards had to use everything from tear gas to foam projectiles to quell the disturbance, a process which took hours. Over 50 people were treated for injuries. The spokesman said some 36 inmates with what he described as "unacceptable housing situations" were being considered for transfer. AP has more.

Racial tensions have run high in California state prisons for years. The California prisons have also become overcrowded [JURIST news archive], being at 70 percent overcapacity with 173,000 total inmates. Earlier this year Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger sought to temporarily relieve the problem by authorizing the transfer of some inmates to private-run facilities in other states. Three weeks ago a US federal judge ruled that the state has six months to remedy the overcrowding problem [JURIST report] itself or face the naming of a three-member federal judicial panel to make recommendations itself. On December 21, Schwarzenegger put forward what he called a comprehensive prison reform proposal [press release] that would add 16,238 beds in state correctional facilities, build 45,000 local jail beds, and set aside $1 billion for 10,000 medical and mental health beds.

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