Dormitory Burns Down in Chino Prison Riot

Joe Mozingo and Margot Roosevelt, Los Angeles Times, August 10, 2009

A dormitory burned down and 55 inmates were taken to hospitals after a riot touched off by fighting among Latino and African American prisoners shut down a 1,300-man unit of the California Institution for Men in Chino on Saturday.

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The disturbance was the prison’s most violent since a December 2006 uprising in which 200 inmates rioted for 90 minutes. That racially charged incident was touched off by a fight between a Latino and an African American.

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Following a 2005 Supreme Court decision that found automatic segregation to be illegal, Chino and other California prisons are moving away from the historic practice of separating inmates by race.

Inmates may now share cells with prisoners of different races. The barracks involved in the rioting had been fully integrated.

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The fighting erupted in one barracks and quickly spread to six others.

“When you start rioting 200 in a unit, everyone knows it,” Hargrove said.

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On Sunday, investigators still were determining what caused the melee and what sparked the fire. They planned to inventory the weapons found at the scene.

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