August 11, 2009 in Nation/World

Prison brawl bodes ill amid budget woes

Associated Press
 

SANTA ANA, Calif. – Inmates at an overcrowded California prison tore doors from their hinges and broke off toilets and sinks in a four-hour riot that injured 175 people, and many fear the crowding that may have helped escalate the brawl will only get worse with $1.2 billion in budget cuts.

A national expert warned 20 months ago that the Chino prison, which held nearly twice as many men as it was designed for, was “a serious disturbance waiting to happen” because of crowding.

Sunday’s fight, which appeared to be racially motivated, comes at a critical time for California prisons. Next week state lawmakers begin deciding how to cut $1.2 billion from the corrections budget, including Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposal to trim the state inmate population by about 27,000 inmates to save money.

The California Institution for Men in Chino holds 5,900 inmates but was designed for 3,000.

Inmates suffered stab and head wounds as inmates attacked one another with makeshift weapons including shards of glass and broken water pipes. Sixteen inmates remained hospitalized Monday, state prisons spokeswoman Terry Thornton said.

More than 1,000 inmates are being temporarily moved to other facilities because of damage, Thornton said.

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