Fresno gang members at center of trouble for statewide prison peacemaking program

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The goal is to get inmates in prison, like gang members, to get along, but state officials put that effort on hold after it's caused more fights and riots.

The effort started a year ago by allowing inmates from different gangs into the exercise yards together. However, State prison officials say since last fall, inmates have been in what they call "modified programs" after causing altercations

Prison officials say some of the issues occurred at Pleasant Valley State Prison in Coalinga, and most recently, the Correctional Training Facility in Soledad.

"Those modified programs are temporary, they're put in place when you have some kind of incident so staff can do what they need to for investigation," said CDCR spokesperson Terry Thornton. "We want to return these facilities to normal program so these inmates can take advantage of these positive programs in the least restrictive settings."

According to the state inspector general's office, a gang out of Fresno is one of the biggest culprits causing more than 30 fights within the last year.

Lt. Steve Card with Fresno Police's MAGEC task force says Fresno's gang members are known to stand alone.

"When bulldogs are placed in a prison environment, they have a reputation of not getting along well with other gangs," Card said.

Prisoner Rights attorney Charles Carbone says his client is an inmate at Pleasant Valley who was injured during the most recent riot.

He says these integrated yards have proved to be a failed program and they don't keep the inmates secure.

"It didn't keep them safe at the most basic levels, so what the department is having to do is face that reality having to seriously rethink these policies, and clean up some wreckage they needlessly created," Carbone said.

CDCR officials say they're continuing to find a solution and ways to safely house inmates but would not disclose any of their options.
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