After the Chino prison riot

Letters from Chino prison inmates

Read letters from inmates who were involved in or witnessed the Aug. 8, 2009 riot at the California Institute for Men in Chino. KPCC obtained the letters from a source who wished to remain anonymous related to someone who was in the Chino riot.

Over three days, KPCC investigates allegations of inmate mistreatment at the California Institution for Men in Chino following a bloody 11-hour riot Aug. 8, 2009. The riot left some 200 men injured. It took authorities until sunrise to contain the violence.

Part 1: Inmates at Chino state prison complain of being incarcerated outdoors
Jan. 11, 2010| Steven Cuevas|KPCC
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Rumors of violence swirled for days before the riot exploded inside the Chino prison’s Reception Center West.

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Part 2: Chino prison warden replies to allegations of inmate mistreatment
Jan. 12, 2010| Steven Cuevas|KPCC
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Many inmates say they were forced to live outdoors in small cages for several days. Prison officials say they had no choice.

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Part 3: Chino inmates allege mistreatment long before August riot
Jan. 13, 2010| Steven Cuevas|KPCC
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Last August, a riot at the California Institution for Men in Chino demolished barracks and injured about 200 prisoners. Some prisoners claim they had to live outdoors for nearly a week after the riot. Others say the practice began months before the riot and hasn’t stopped.

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AirTalk: Chino prison riot aftermath
Jan. 11, 2010| AirTalk|KPCC
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KPCC reporter Steven Cuevas talks with Larry Mantle about his three-part series and about the process of reporting the story.

Letters from Chino Prison montage

Watch and listen to a montage of voices reading letters from inmates alleging mistreatment by Chino prison guards after the Aug. 8, 2009 riot.

Two housing blocks were demolished, making the prison’s bad overcrowding problem even worse. Each dormitory was at double capacity. About 1,300 inmates were left without bunk space.

In interviews and in letters obtained by KPCC, inmates complained of being kept outdoors in punishing heat and the freezing overnight cold for up to four days after the riot. Other inmates say they were held under similar conditions months before the riot. Others claim the prison continues to house prisoners in unsanitary, unsafe conditions in order to deal with a dramatic shortage of bed space.

In remarks made during a tour of the prison last summer, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger called the riot “a terrible symptom of a much larger problem, a much larger illness.” It highlights a system in crisis, he said.

KPCC examines the aftermath of the Chino prison riot.

During the reporting of this project, questions raised by KPCC’s Steven Cuevas, about inmates being repeatedly held outdoors for long stretches, prompted a new investigation by the state Office of the Inspector General. Authorities are now looking at how and where the prison bunked inmates before and after the riot.

Chino Prison Riot Timeline

These are the events leading up to and immediately following the riot - according to news reports, prison officials and witness accounts.




Images of the riot aftermath

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