Rioting involving more than 350 inmates broke out Thursday at a prison in Jamestown, sending seven to the hospital with injuries, the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation reports.
The riot began about 9:50 a.m. in the Sierra Conservation Center’s main exercise yard, according to Robert Kelsey, public information officer for the correctional facility. Kelsey said an investigation is ongoing and the cause of the violence has not been determined.
Officers fired warning shots into the air from a raised post to calm the violence, also using tear gas and non-lethal ammunition like foam bullets, Kelsey said. While the riot lasted four or five minutes, according to Kesley, prison employees worked to clear the area throughout the morning.
The last inmate was removed from the yard and medically evaluated by 1 p.m., he said.
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The seven inmates who went to the hospital for treatment were injured or lost consciousness due to the initial fighting rather than the disciplinary measures, Kelsey said.
“When they move like that, it’s a giant swarm,” said Kelsey, describing the riot in which inmates punched and kicked each other. He said the prison has not seen a riot of Thursday’s size for about a year.
Sierra Conservation Center, in Tuolumne County, opened in 1965 and holds 1,528 minimum and medium-security inmates, according to the CDCR. The facility is one of two in California that place male inmates in the Conservation Camp Program, which enlists prisoners to help in natural disasters.