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Third Prisoner Dies in 2023 at California’s New Folsom Prison

At California State Prison in Sacramento on May 1, 2023, prisoner Mario Rushing, 46, was choking another prisoner when ordered by guards to cease and desist. Ignoring their commands, Rushing continued the attack – even after guards deployed chemical agents and other less-than-lethal measures to stop him. As the other prisoner lost consciousness and went limp, a guard then fatally shot Rushing.

Rushing had been imprisoned since 1996, serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for convictions out of San Diego County for first-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter with an enhancement of terminating a pregnancy and arson of a structure or forest fire. After being shot with the guard’s Mini-14 semi-automatic rifle, he was taken to a local hospital where he died in the early evening. The prisoner Rushing attacked was treated at the prison and survived. Prison officials placed the guard on administrative leave pending an investigation and, like Rushing’s prisoner victim, did not identify him publicly.

Rushing’s death marked the second prisoner fatality in two days and the third of 2023 at the lockup, which is known as New Folsom to distinguish it from the older Folsom State Prison next door. The day before Rushing was shot, a fight broke out between two prisoners, leaving Edward C. Bergman, 53, dead in his cell. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) is investigating both homicides. Another fight in January 2023 killed 42-year-old Joseph D. Horne, making his the first death of the year at the prison. PLN has also reported on other troubles at New Folsom.

In October 2022, prisoner Felipe Rodriguez, 36, was murdered with a prison-made weapon. CDCR named two fellow prisoners, Selso E. Orozco and Mike A. Calderon, as suspects. [See: PLN, Feb. 2023, p.63.]

In December 2022, guard Sgt. Brenda Villa, 32, was indicted for falsifying an official report to cover up an assault by a fellow guard on prisoner Ronnie Price, 65. Another guard, Ashley Marie Aurich, 34, was sentenced to 21 months for the same crime, also in December 2022. Two months earlier, in October 2022, guard Arturo Pacheco, 40, was sentenced to 151 months in prison for the fatal attack on Price, whose family has filed suit. [See: PLN, Jan. 2023, p.32.] The federal court for the Eastern District of California dismissed Aurich as a defendant at Plaintiff’s request on August 7, 2023. On August 16, 2023, a magistrate judge recommended dismissing Warden Jeffrey Lynch, as well. PLN will update developments as they are available. See: Price v. Pacheco, USDC (E.D. Calif.), Case No. 2:22-cv-01610.

New Folsom houses more than 1,900 maximum- and high-security prisoners and employs about 1,700 people. The prison holds those serving long-term sentences, as well as those needing specialized mental health care or treatment for high-risk medical conditions.  

Additional source: Sacramento Bee

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