Lockdowns after jail riot

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESanta Anita opens winter meet Saturday with loaded card About 200 people were involved in serious fighting, which might be connected to the stabbing of a Latino gang member by an African-American gang member last week at Men’s Central Jail in Los Angeles. Of the 46 inmates treated for injuries, two remained at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital on Sunday, including one in critical condition, spokeswoman Bhavna Mistry said. Officials segregated Latino and African-American inmates in the North County facility – permitted during emergencies – while the entire county jail system was in lockdown, though deputies allowed restricted movement for some inmates by Sunday afternoon. “Everything’s quiet,” Whitmore said. The measures are in effect until officials decide it’s “safe to move forward.” The jail system – the nation’s largest – oversees a daily population of about 21,000. About 60 percent are Hispanic, and about 30 percent are African-American, officials said. With racial tensions viewed as a catalyst for the riot, Sheriff Lee Baca said he wants to discuss the need for inmate segregation with civil liberties groups, even as a 2005 U.S. Supreme Court ruling forbid separation of state prison inmates strictly by race. SANTA CLARITA – The Los Angeles County jail system remained in lockdown Sunday as authorities investigated a race-related riot at Pitchess Detention Center – one of the worst in at least four years that left an inmate dead and dozens injured. Wayne Robert Tiznor, 45, of Los Angeles died from apparent blunt force trauma amid the chaos Saturday when fighting between Latino and African-American inmates spread to involve more than 2,000 in the North County Correctional Facility, one of three jails inside the sprawling 8,200-inmate complex. Tiznor, who is African-American, was arrested Jan. 3 for failing to register as a sex offender. He was assigned to the 3,800-inmate maximum-security lockup Jan. 23, according to county sheriff’s records. Investigators were trying to determine if he was linked to the racial tensions and gang rivalries officials believe sparked the violence, sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore said. “It’s being looked at right now,” he said, adding the inquiry could last several days. “The homicide investigators are interviewing everybody to see if there is a link.” “The sheriff wants to … have some real-life discussions,” Whitmore said. “He wants to examine the reality of the jail world, where segregation prevents violence that could lead to death.” The Sheriff’s Department has said it doesn’t segregate by race but rather by gang affiliation, type of crime, propensity for violence or escape, sexual orientation and other factors. But gangs in and out of jail are often organized around race. Jody Kent of the American Civil Liberties Union said racial segregation of inmates might be allowed during emergencies, but it can’t be the only solution to jailhouse violence. “There are underlying issues that caused or exacerbate the tensions in the jail, and they come from overcrowding, which is an issue we have brought up,” said Kent, jail projects coordinator for ACLU’s Southern California chapter. “They are in there locked down 24 hours a day. They get three hours a week minimum of exercise. That environment fosters violence.” Kent said reducing jail crowding and enhancing inmate education and work programs could help, but she acknowledged the Sheriff’s Department is hampered by staff and funding shortages. “There are only so many things the Sheriff’s Department can do,” she said. In February 2005, the Supreme Court voted 5-3 in Johnson vs. California that state prisons can’t racially segregate prisoners for up to 60 days each time they enter a new prison, even on the premise that the policy helps to prevent violence caused by racial gangs. But attorney Bert H. Deixler, who argued for plaintiff and inmate Garrison Johnson, said the decision allows other effective options. “Knowing that people are members of gangs is critically important to making decisions in how they should be housed,” he said. “It would be perfectly constitutional for Sheriff Baca to segregate people based on gang affiliation,” even if the gangs are racially-based. Douglas W. Kmiec, constitutional law professor at Pepperdine University, agreed. “Alternative bases of segregation are possible, so long as it is not just a clever way to separate by race,” he wrote in an e-mail. “If gang-based separation is based upon a record of gang animosity and violence between gangs, that might well survive.” But screening inmates based on these other criteria can be tough in a jail setting, Deixler said. “It’s a pre-conviction setting,” he said. “Generally, you have less information. People are picked up off the street. It’s more difficult.” Eugene Tong, (661) 257-5253 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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