New fights reported in L.A. County jail

first_imgLOS ANGELES (AP) – New fighting erupted at a jail where rioting two weeks ago sparked a jailwide series of deadly racial brawls but the latest skirmish was limited to 40 inmates and ended with only four minor injuries, authorities said Friday. About 40 black, white and Hispanic inmates traded punches for 30 minutes Thursday night at the North County Correctional Facility in Castaic before tear gas was used to break it up, sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore said. The latest clash involved newly arrived inmates who were in a dayroom waiting for cell assignments. The inmates, some of them “right off the streets,” were not involved in previous fighting, Whitmore said. Only the North County facility was segregated. Racial separation of prisoners was found to be illegal by the U.S. Supreme Court last year except under “extraordinary” circumstances, but civil rights activists agreed that the riot met that standard and did not protest the Sheriff’s Department action. However, jail officials said they always intended the segregation to be temporary. Privileges were also being restored gradually throughout the system, jailers said. The entire jail system, more than 16,000 inmates, was locked down shortly after the first battle, meaning inmates could not receive mail or visits from family, buy items at jail canteens, make phone calls, watch television, use recreational facilities or leave their cells except for meals, showers and court appearances. Inmates began getting mail Wednesday after Chief Sam Jones, who handles jail security, received assurances they would try to keep the peace. He promised additional privileges would be restored if the clashes ceased. “I’m giving them something back every day,” Jones said after a round of visiting dormitories and cells.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECasino Insider: Here’s a look at San Manuel’s new high limit rooms, Asian restaurant On Feb. 4, thousands of inmates brawled at the jail complex, 40 miles north of downtown Los Angeles. That touched off nearly two weeks of racially charged clashes in the nation’s largest jail system. One black inmate in Castaic was beaten to death, a second collapsed at the downtown jail died of unknown causes after a fight, and more than 100 inmates were injured in the melees. Whitmore said the Sheriff’s Department will ask the county district attorney next week to file charges against 21 inmates allegedly involved in the attacks. Some could face murder charges. On Thursday, officials announced that racial segregation has been almost completely lifted at the 3,500-inmate North County Correctional Facility. Whitmore said it was about 85 percent reintegrated in a gradual process that began Feb. 9 and the rest of the facility would follow on a dormitory-by-dormitory basis as officials were convinced that peace was restored. Most of the high-risk offenders at the facility have been moved out of large dorms into single and double cells at the Men’s Central Jail and other places, Sheriff Lee Baca said. “We do this as tensions will allow,” Whitmore said. Thursday night’s fight did not drastically change plans to continue reintegration.last_img read more