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California Private Prison Riot

By W. Wisely

Racial brawling broke out between black and Latino prisoners at Victor Valley Community Correctional Facility March 1, 2000. Six prisoners were sent to hospitals near the Adelanto, California, medium security private prison operated by Marantha Private Corrections LLC.

Fighting began at 7:00 P.M. and allegedly ended a few minutes later, Angela Valles, Assistant Facility Director, told the Associated Press. However, the Adelanto Police Department reported rioting continued at 9:30 P.M. An hour and a half later, heavily armed guards from another prison nearby arrived as reinforcements.

The 500 man for-profit prison houses mostly non-violent parole violators. Emphasis there is on rehabilitation, and spokespersons deny any serious problems. Yet, in October, 1998, racial violence broke out between some 50 prisoners, injuring three.

Five of the 10 to 15 men involved in the latest incident were expected to be transferred to Lancaster prison, according to Valles. The facility was locked-down pending an investigation. "So they can't talk to each other. That way we can investigate the incident," said Larry Kositsin, director of counseling.

Trying to downplay the situation, Valles said she wasn't sure what started the fighting, adding it may have been racial tension. "There was no riot," she said. "Riot means your whole facility burns down and there is no control. We had it under control. At no time was the community at risk." Despite those assurances, Adelanto police blocked traffic to the prison.

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