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FBI Investigates CDC Shootings

In the January, 1995, issue of we ran an article about the shooting death of a San Quentin prisoner by California Department of Corrections (CDC) guards. In the past ten years CDC guards have shot and killed 36 prisoners, including three since September, 1994. That is three times more than all other U.S. prison systems combined.

In October, 1994, the FBI announced that it was investigating possible civil rights violations at the Corcoran State Prison near Fresno where seven prisoners have been shot to death by guards since the prison opened in 1988. The FBI has notified the CDC of the investigation and asked them not to interfere. A CDC spokesman has stated that a federal grand jury may be convened to investigate as well Guards and other prison employees have been interrogated by the FBI, apparently focusing on the prisons shooting policy. Prisoners were interviewed as well.

Corcoran has the highest number of shooting deaths of any CDC facility, followed by Pelican Bay where four prisoners have been gunned down by CDC guards since it opened in 1989. The Kings County district attorney has reviewed each of the shooting deaths at Corcoran and stated that none of the deaths seemed improper. District attorney Patrick Hart stated that the only Corcoran death "that might raise questions" is "In 1992, officers trying to stop a knife attack accidentally shot and killed the inmate who was the victim of the attack."

Staff misconduct at Corcoran is not unknown. In December, 1993, a guard was fired for using marijuana and cocaine while off duty. In 1990, two lieutenants were convicted of criminal assault in state court for using a Taser (a device which fires up to 50,000 volts of electricity via two darts) on a prisoners testicles.

Los Angeles Times

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