Brawl Leads to Lockdown at O.C. Jail

Stuart Pfeifer, Los Angeles Times, April 22, 2008

Inmates in Orange County’s Central Men’s Jail were locked in their cells Monday for a third consecutive day, the result of a racially motivated melee involving about two dozen inmates, an Orange County sheriff’s official said.

About 1,300 inmates at the Santa Ana jail have been denied outdoor recreation, religious services, education programs and visits from family and friends because of a Friday night brawl between black and Latino inmates, said Sheriff’s Capt. Roland Chacon.

The fighting broke out after some “name-calling” in two dormitories that each housed 68 low-security inmates, Chacon said. Deputies broke up the fighting quickly and without having to use force. Twelve inmates were injured, and one was treated at a hospital for a cut on his head.

After the fight, sheriff’s officials moved several of the inmates to disciplinary cells where they will be isolated from other inmates. Some of the jail’s eight dormitories were segregated to discourage racial violence, and the entire jail was locked down. Inmates are being fed in their cells rather than in a dining hall.

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Racial violence is common among inmates at county jails and state prisons throughout the United States, Chacon said. He said deputies monitor inmates to determine whether racial violence is imminent.

“These incidents don’t happen that often, but they do happen,” Chacon said. “When we start to get word that things are brewing, we take it very seriously.”

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