SAN FRANCISCO — Prison guards shot into a crowd to stop 200 rioting inmates at California’s Folsom State Prison, wounding five, authorities said today.
Another two inmates were injured by other prisoners during Friday’s riot, which began at about 7 p.m. in the main exercise yard and ended after 30 minutes. Prison spokesman Lt. Anthony Gentile said officers fired after other efforts to break up the riot failed.
“We tried to control the situation with chemical agents dispersed over the crowd,” Gentile said Saturday. “We fired several rounds of rubber bullets and that didn’t stop them from fighting.”
None of the inmates suffered life-threatening injuries, and none of the 45 to 50 officers who responded were hurt.
The prison, made famous in the Johnny Cash song “Folsom Prison Blues,” could remain on lockdown for the next several weeks during an investigation. That means inmates won’t be allowed to have visitors, use the exercise yard or attend work training, Gentile said.
The prison has been hit with sporadic violence in its 130-year existence.
Most recently, eight inmates were injured in October after a fight involving about 120 prisoners erupted in a dining hall at the prison.
In April 2002, 24 inmates and one guard were injured during a riot.
Opened in 1880, Folsom is California’s second oldest prison, primarily housing medium security inmates. The prison also operates a minimum-security unit and a transitional treatment facility.
The facility’s website said it has 3,540 inmates and a custody staff of 643. It is located about 20 miles east of Sacramento.