Yesterday, I took the editors of the L.A. Times to task for opposing temporary racial segregation in prison. The editors claimed:
Clearly, the state cannot classify people solely on that basis in the year 2005, and it would be preposterous for state prison officials to continue arguing that there is a compelling reason to do so.
Preposterous, you say!
I argued in response that prisoners are not as racially sensitive as the rest of us, and often engage in violence due to race.
Who was right? L.A. Times editors? Or yours truly?
Here’s a hint:
An AP story today is titled Prison is still on lockdown after race riot:
The state prison in Tehachapi remained on lockdown Friday after violent race riot broke out among hundreds of inmates, leaving three of them injured.
In all, 480 inmates went after one another in the common yard at 6:10 p.m. Thursday, said Mike Coghlan, a spokesman for the California Correctional Institution in Tehachapi, a medium security facility.
The melee between black and Latino inmates lasted 40 minutes before guards were able to bring it under control using tear gas, pepper spray and nonlethal baton rounds from firearms, Coghlan said.
The AP story does note the irony, and tries to dispel it:
The brawl came just a day after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that state prisons cannot segregate inmates by race, even temporarily, except under the most extraordinary circumstances.
A spokesman for the California Department of Corrections saw no parallel between Thursday’s disturbance and the issues addressed by the nation’s high court.
“The Supreme Court case is centered around the reception center and this happened in the Unit 2 facility in the general population,” said Todd Slosek, a CDC spokesman. “It’s two different areas within the institution.”
He added that inmates have agreed to forego race riots in the reception center, and have assured prison officials that they will conduct their race riots exclusively in general population cellblocks.
Okay, so I made up that last paragraph, but it does convey my point: prison inmates often attack other people on the basis of race. And they’ll do it in a reception center as readily as in the general population.
Today’s riot is further proof of the fact that the Supreme Court case is bound to lead to more violence in California prisons.
P.S. Unlike the AP, the L.A. Times is agnostic on whether race was a factor in the riot. But then, the AP didn’t recently editorialize on the issue . . .