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Riot locks down prison for weeks

Several investigations under way into cause of Friday riot at Folsom State Prison
By: Laura Newell Telegraph Staff Writer
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Area residents said the recent Folsom Prison riot is part of living in the shadow of the famous penitentiary, but they are worried that brawls put others in danger. The prison remains in lockdown mode and will probably stay that way for weeks, according to officials. Nancy Atchley, pastor and director of the Powerhouse Ministries in Folsom, said family members of inmates can seek help and support through different venues. “Families should be referred to prison ‘visiting’ or to ‘public relations’,” Atchley said. “I would encourage people to talk to the prison chaplain for support and information.” Lt. Anthony Gentile, spokesman for the prison, said family members of inmates need to understand the serious nature of this incident and remember that prison officials are currently working toward protecting the safety of prison staff and inmates. “We can pray, but when you look at how many men are over there and were involved, all we can do is wait,” Atchley said. Locals say while they aren’t fearful for their own safety, they are worried about those inside. “What a shame,” said Lea Ann Lamb, 58, of El Dorado Hills. “This kind of stuff happens and it upsets me, but it doesn’t bring me fear. It’s a shame this stuff has to happen.” Seven inmates suffered non-life threatening injuries after a riot took place Friday evening in the facility’s recreation yard around 7 p.m., said Lt. Anthony Gentile, Folsom Prison public information officer. Gentile said two prisoners were hit with gunfire from corrections officers following the riot involving 200 inmates. “Everyone is in stable condition,” Gentile said. “Seven (inmates) went to the (nearby) hospital. Four have already returned to the prison and three are in stable condition at the hospital.” Before opening fire with their guns, correctional officers tried to break up the fight using tear gas and rubber bullets. The fight lasted about 30 minutes, Gentile said. Some residents aren’t surprised by the violence. “It’s a prison, it’s going to happen,” said Leej Hinge, 34, of Folsom. None of the 45 to 50 officers who responded were hurt, Gentile said. The prison will remain on lockdown for the next several weeks during an investigation. Gentile said, under lockdown, inmates would not be allowed to have visitors, use the exercise yard or attend work training. “At this point, we don’t know how long the prison will remain in lockdown,” Gentile said. “Something of this magnitude, it’s going to be some time. There are several investigations going on simultaneously.” Gentile said it is still too early in the investigation to determine what started the riot. He said there are currently inside and outside investigations under way. “People get in trouble and they are in prison for a reason, so I say they should do whatever it takes to protect the inmates and the officers,” said Marsha Maffia, 60, of Scotts Valley who was visiting friends in Folsom.