Extreme Bravery Shown by CIM and Other Staff to Quell Violence During the Riot;
Immediate Statewide Response Kept Incident Under Control
In an effort to properly assess its policies and training guidelines, on March 16, CDCR released its After Action Report on the August 8, 2009 riot at the California Institution for Men (CIM).
The report shows that CDCR staff acted courageously in the face of a heavy scale display of violence and destruction by prison inmates.
“On August 8, 2009, the violence erupted and spread throughout the prison almost instantly,” said Matthew Cate, CDCR Secretary. “Our staff acted heroically and bravely to stop the violence amidst a chaotic scene of fire and destruction. Through the coordinated teamwork with regional CDCR staff, regional law enforcement and medical response personnel, there were no escapes and no deaths during the riot.”
The report also highlights areas in need of improvement, including better ways to identify inmates during such incidents and increase timely communication with responding law enforcement agencies.
The report notes that the riot stemmed from racial tensions which also prompted a smaller riot at the same prison on May 21, 2009. Evidence indicates that the August 8, 2009 riot was driven by gang behavior and racial tension. In all, 1,175 inmates were involved, with 249 inmates injured (54 taken to area hospitals; 185 treated at CIM). There were no fatalities.
Following the incident, nine staff reported non-life threatening injuries. Employee post trauma services and counseling were offered to all CIM employees who responded to the incident.
The destruction was extensive. During the riot, seven dorm units were rendered uninhabitable (approx 1,300 beds). One of those, Joshua Hall, sustained the most damage and required the most extensive repairs. Inmate housing is being rebuilt under the supervision of the Inmate Ward Labor Program that pairs state construction supervisors with skilled tradesman from the community and inmates from CIM. Construction and refurbishing of the damaged housing began in early November and is ongoing. It is expected to cost approximately $5.2 million.
CDCR is now in the process of making changes based on recent events and an expanded bed capacity in the system. For example, CDCR is converting CIM West from a Reception Center (RC) mission to a Level I/II General Population mission, and moving the RC processing to the celled environment at H.G. Stark. This move will reduce the CIM West capacity by 375 beds when it reopens.
CDCR is also searching for an internet technology solution to provide remote fingerprint identification to expedite positive identification of inmates during critical disturbances. Staff will make appropriate adjustments to tactical, communication and equipment needs for any future incident of this magnitude.
The CIM West retrofit construction project will include fire retardant materials and replacement of porcelain bathroom fixtures with stainless steel fixtures, as these are less easily destroyed. All executives within CDCR’s Division of Adult Institutions were briefed on the incident, and will be incorporating the lessons learned in future training opportunities.
The After Action Report was compiled by a team of CDCR’s experts on prison operations and lists recommendations for improvements. This week, it is also expected that the Office of the Inspector General will release a review of CIM’s response to the riot.
After Action Report: https://www.cdcr.ca.gov/News/CIM_DOC/CIM_AAR.pdf
Slideshow: CONSTRUCTION – https://www.flickr.com/photos/37381942@N04/sets/72157623507332741/
Slideshow: RIOT DAMAGE – https://www.flickr.com/photos/37381942@N04/sets/72157621898449247/