SACRAMENTO (Reuters) - A California prison inmate was shot and wounded and 12 others were sent to the hospital with stab and slash wounds and head trauma on Wednesday after a riot at the California State Prison-Sacramento in the city of Folsom, prison officials said.
Rioting involving 60 inmates broke out in the late morning, prompting prison officers to fire six shots with a rifle, wounding one of the inmates, officials said.
The prisoner who was shot had undergone surgery, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said, but his condition was unknown.
California’s state prisons have been plagued by hunger strikes, occasional violence and overcrowding and remain at more than 50 percent above capacity, despite a massive shifting of low-level offenders to county jails that began last year.
The effort to shift the prison population followed a U.S. Supreme Court directive to cut the state inmate population to 110,000 after the nation’s top court ruled that overcrowding in the 33-prison system was causing “needless suffering and death.”
No prison staff were injured during the Folsom brawl, authorities said. Four of the 12 wounded inmates sent to hospitals were treated and returned to the prison, officials said. The condition of the other wounded inmates was not provided.
Officials said they recovered four crudely made weapons.
Prison officials were conducting investigations into the officers’ use of a weapon capable of deadly force at the prison. Independent inspectors would be oversee the staff investigation, the officials added.
Thousands of California prisoners have taken part in waves of hunger strikes since last July, when inmates at Pelican Bay State Prison began protesting against isolation units. Those strikes rippled throughout the rest of the state prisons system.
The California State Prison-Sacramento houses more than 2,500 mostly maximum-security inmates serving long sentences. Also known as “New Folsom,” it is adjacent to Folsom State Prison, which is older and better known because of a famous concert there by singer Johnny Cash in 1968.
Reporting by Mary Slosson; editing by Christopher Wilson and Cynthia Johnston