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CA Prisoners Assault Prison Office

On May 5, 1995, at 9:45 am, five prisoners at the Calipatria maximum security prison walked into an "A Facility" program office and stabbed a sergeant. Three other guards rushed to her aid and they too were stabbed in a brawl that rolled through the office. It was not until four other guards arrived on the scene that they were finally able to disarm the prisoners. In all, five guards were stabbed and three others suffered various other minor injuries. We have no information on what, if any, injuries were suffered by the five prisoners. The prison was put on indefinite lockdown status.

Calipatria State Prison spokesman Lt. Tom Deschler said to the press that prison officials are "not really sure" why the prisoners launched the assault. "I don't think they were trying to take over anything, but it's a scary thought," Deschler said. He said the attack "seemed planned," but that "we have no motive or anything like that."

The above comments, reported in the Sacramento Bee were made weeks after the incident, so Lt. "Spin Doctor" had plenty of time to gather information upon which to base his comments about the apparently senseless attack. As usual, the mainstream press gets its version of events from the prisoncrats. Whatever the government spin doctors have to say is "news" and the mainstream press accepts it, and prints it, without question. So why would five prisoners, in what appeared to be a "planned attack" storm a prison office and start stabbing guards without having a "motive or anything like that?" They must be mad dogs.

The Bee reported that the prisoners were "later identified as members of a South Central Los Angeles street gang." Not reported by the Bee, however, is the fact that earlier that morning another member of the same gang, the East Side Crips, was beaten by Calipatria prison guards. The assault on the prison office, then, was apparently a calculated response in retaliation for the earlier beating.

To the Bee's credit, they did dig a little bit in an attempt to make some kind of sense out of what may have appeared to be a totally senseless assault. They pointed out that fourteen CA prisons are filled to over 180 percent capacity, and five are stuffed with over 200 percent of their rated capacity. They also cited a 1994 CDC Emergency Operations Unit report that compared current conditions in California's prisons to those that presaged violent, bloody uprisings in Attica, Santa Fe and Lucasville. They also interviewed a number of "experts" on the CA prison system, as well as several state assembly members. One assembly budget committee analyst said that taking away prison "perks" like family visits and weight lifting, both of which experts say can serve as a measure to control prisoners if rationed in accordance with good behavior, amount to "emotive policy making" that places politics over "good penology."

The Bee article made some good, sound points... but by failing to interview some "experts" about the CDC, mainly those who live within its belly, the Bee missed the mark on this one.

Sacramento Bee, June 1, 1995; Letters from CA readers.

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