More than 115 inmates involved in Calipatria State Prison riot

December 11, 2012|By CELESTE ALVAREZ | Staff Writer

CALIPATRIA — Nine inmates were taken to area hospitals after a riot involving more than 115 inmates erupted at Calipatria State Prison on Saturday evening, prison officials reported.

No corrections staff members were injured in the melee, prison officials said.

Inmate movement was being limited Monday as prison officials continued to investigate the cause of the riot that saw the nine hurt inmates suffer moderate to serious injuries, according to Calipatria State Prison Public Information Officer Lt. Jorge Santana.

Response teams from other areas of the prison converged on the scene of the riot, which took place in Facility A’s general population Level IV yard, a maximum security area, quelling the violence and subduing the inmates after about seven minutes, Santana said.

The riot started after an inmate wielding a stabbing-type weapon approached a group of five inmates in the yard and began stabbing the five men, according to preliminary reports.

The five men were able to subdue their attacker and began to batter him as additional inmates approached the crime scene, officials reported. At that time, a semi-automatic round was fired as a warning shot, according to the prison.

Responding correctional officers used pepper spray and foam-tipped rubber rounds to control the violence as more staff arrived to assist, according to prison officials.

As the incident was in clear view of the maximum security Facility A dining room, riots erupted there with a total of 90 inmates participating in the incident, some breaking food trays to use as makeshift weapons, Santana explained.

The dining room incident is what lasted about seven minutes, until officials were able to subdue everyone, he said.

Sixteen inmates in the culinary area of the prison level also participated in the riot using nearby objects as weapons, such as dough cutters and bread pans, as well as breaking oven racks to continue the violence, officials reported.

The prison is under what is referred to as modified program, which limits inmate movement for only absolutely necessary travel, including trips to the infirmary, the legal law library and the showers, Santana said.

“The modified program will likely last weeks, being that there was so many involved,” Santana said.

As the investigation proceeds, Santana said the prison will consider transferring certain inmates to other prisons for fear of retribution.

Calipatria State Prison opened in 1992 and houses about 3,500 inmates, 1,700 of which are serving life and 594 are serving life without the possibility of parole. There are 1,280 employees at the prison.

Staff Writer Celeste Alvarez can be reached at 760-337-3442 or at

By the numbers

3500 Calipatria State Prison inmates housed

1700 Inmates serving life sentences

594 Inmates serving life without the possibility of parole

1280 Calipatria employees

115+ Inmates involved in riot

9 Inmates transported to surrounding hospitals


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