Officials investigate cause behind jail riot

Monday, February 6, 2006

CASTAIC, Calif. -- A maximum-security jail was in a lockdown Sunday, a day after a race-related riot left one inmate dead and more than 100 injured.

Investigators were interviewing hundreds of inmates and witnesses to the fighting that erupted between black and Hispanic prisoners Saturday at the North County Correctional Facility, about 40 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles.

About 1,800 to 2,000 inmates were involved in the rioting that lasted for 30 minutes to an hour, and about 200 inmates engaged in "serious fighting," said a sheriff's spokesman.

Inmates tossed mattresses and banged heads against bunk beds, with smaller fights continuing for at least four hours after the main brawl, officials said. Authorities used nonlethal pepper spray projectiles. No law enforcement personnel were injured.

The motivation for the riots appeared to be a feud between black and Hispanic gangs, officials said.

Black and Hispanic inmates at the facility remained segregated Sunday. It is illegal to segregate prisoners based on race or ethnicity, but legal advisers said it could be done in emergency situations, said Sam Jones, chief custody officer with the Los Angeles County jail system.

It was not clear whether the slain inmate, Wayne Robert Tiznor, 45, who is black, was singled out. Tiznor was jailed after his Jan. 3 arrest for failing to register as a sex offender, officials said.

The correctional facility is a maximum-security complex comprised of five jails houses about 4,000 inmates on a 34-acre site.

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