MADERA – An incident involving inmates at the Madera County Department of Corrections yesterday resulted in injuries to several prisoners, but was quickly brought under control by jail staff.
On Monday, Jan. 12, at about 8:40 p.m., 11 inmates took advantage of their close proximity to rival gang members to launch an attack against each other.
The incident took place in a secured hallway inside the Maximum Security Housing Unit. Correctional Staff gained control of the situation utilizing Less-Than-Lethal weaponry (pepper spray) and Mechanical Restraint Devices.
While the melee was playing out in the hallway, inmates in an adjoining housing unit began breaking the glass separating the two areas in an attempt to participate in the brawl. Their attempt was unsuccessful, and correctional staff secured those inmates within their unit without further incident.
Officers from the Madera County Sheriff’s Office, Madera Police Department and the CHP responded to provide aid if necessary, and staged within the jail facility to allow for a quick response if needed. However, the 12 Corrections Officers and 1 Watch Commander on duty at the time proved sufficient to gain control of the situation.
The Phase I design at the jail allowed the Central Control Officer to override the operation of the control panel within the unit itself, and prevent any door being opened from the Maximum Security Housing Unit, thereby keeping all inmates confined to that area.
Jail staff believes that the intent of the inmates who participated in this disturbance was for the sole purpose of attacking rival gang members. Within the gang culture and gang politics, rival gang members maintain an ongoing duty to attack and assault rival gang members when and if the opportunity presents itself.
At no time did this incident pose a threat to the community as it was contained within the maximum housing unit, says Chief Manuel Perez, Director of Corrections at the facility. There were no injuries sustained by staff, and injuries sustained by inmates were superficial and were treated by medical staff within the facility.
The jail itself sustained moderate damage, which included breakage to security glass and a security door, which was damaged by inmates who had been locked in while attending a religious program.
The incident is being investigated internally by the Department of Corrections Classification Unit and is ongoing.