Atwater Prison Stabbings

September 17, 2008 12:33:38 AM PDT
A disturbance at the United States Penitentiary in Atwater left 7 inmates with stab wounds. The incident occurred just before noon on Tuesday. Prison authorities say five inmates were treated for their injuries at the prison while two were hospitalized.The weapons involved were "shanks" or improvised knives.

It's the second stabbing incident in less than a week at this prison. Last Wednesday four inmates were stabbed in a gang type fight.

The head of a citizens group called "Friends and Families of Correctional Officers" Says the violence is an outrage. Andy Krotik formed the group correctional officer Jose Rivera was stabbed to death by inmates in the Atwater Penitentiary on June 20th.

The prison was locked down after Rivera's death. The lockdown was lifted on September 8th, and the inmate stabbings started right away. Krotik says security at the prison is not adequate. Krotik claims:"They're not doing the proper shakedowns because they don't have the proper staffing levels. It's estimated by people who are communicating with us that 80 per cent of the inmates have shanks, ready and available. That's scary."

Krotik and his group are primarily concerned about the safety of the prisons correctional officers.

He says:"We're not an inmate advocacy group. However, if an inmate can be murdered a correctional officer can be murdered."

Congressman Dennis Cardoza convened a meeting on conditions at the prison earlier this month. He pushed for stab resistant vests for correctional officers, which have since been ordered. He also called for other safety equipment for the prisons correctional officers, and for an increase in staffing. Krotik is a former Atwater City Council Member who pushed to get the prison. With the continuing violence, he's not sure he would advocate bringing the prison to Atwater now. He says, "I can't say I would. I have neighbors who work there and it's a dangerous place."

The citizens group wants the lockdown on inmates to remain in effect until all the guards have adequate equipment, and until the prison is properly staffed. Prison officials were not available for comment.

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