Eleven inmates were involved in a gang-related fight at the Madera County Department of Corrections Monday night, breaking some security glass and a door, the department said Tuesday afternoon.
The attack, which happened around 8:42 p.m., did not pose a threat to the community and was contained to the maximum security housing unit where prisoners were able to get close to one another during program time.
“At this time, we believe that the intent of the inmates who participated in this disturbance was for the sole purpose of attacking rival gang members,” the department said in a news release. “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.”
Program is a time when prisoners are allowed out of their cells to play cards and watch television, said Cpl. Lisa Morales. There are about 80 inmates housed in maximum security, she said.
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During the incident, inmates in one of the housing units tried to break security glass with hardened objects to participate in the fight, the department said. There was also damage to a security door where prisoners attending a religious program were locked in.
Correctional staff gained control a short time after the fight using pepper spray and handcuffs.
Madera County Department of Corrections Director Manuel Perez said that jail protocol requires a full lockdown of all inmates when a fight breaks out.
Some of the maximum security inmates initially refused to go back into their cells. Perez said that prompted staff to call outside law enforcement for additional help.
The Madera County Sheriff’s Office, the Madera Police Department and the California Highway Patrol responded.
The sheriff’s office sent seven deputies to assist, and “within 30 minutes everything was fine,” said sheriff’s spokeswoman Erica Stuart. The jail is operated independent of the sheriff’s office.
No staff members were injured and inmates suffered only superficial injuries and were treated by the medical staff at the facility.
The fight was the latest trouble confronting the county’s jail.
Last September, five inmates escaped from the jail when one of them removed the bars on a window and four others followed. The escape when unnoticed for an hour. And last summer, an inmate jumped the fence at the jail as he took out the trash.