- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 9, 2006

LOS ANGELES (AP) — All seven Los Angeles County jails were on lockdown yesterday after more brawls broke out between Hispanic and black inmates, continuing a week of rioting that has injured scores of inmates and killed one.

Five racially motivated fights broke out Wednesday, the largest involving about 300 inmates in a dorm at the medium-security North Facility of Pitchess Detention Center in Castaic, about 40 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles, sheriff’s Sgt. Don Manumaleuna said.

“Deputies were able to regain control of the facility, and at this time, they’re investigating the cause of the disturbance,” he said.

Nineteen inmates were injured in the fighting Wednesday, one critically, sheriff’s Deputy Bill Spear said.

The latest brawls began inside a group dorm, where more than 100 inmates separated themselves along racial lines. That violence was quickly put down, but similar fights broke out at four more dorms, leading deputies to fire sting balls on inmates to gain control, sheriff’s Sgt. Diane Hecht said.

All seven county jails were expected to remain locked down through at least yesterday, Deputy Spear said.

Another section of the same detention center was the site of rioting Saturday between Hispanic and black inmates that killed one man and injured more than 100. Two jail melees occurred Monday night.

Investigators were looking into the cause and timing of the Wednesday fights.

Authorities have said they suspect the recent violence was started by gang leaders outside the jail contacting Hispanic associates inside and directing them to attack blacks as retaliation for a recent assault in South Los Angeles.

California Corrections Secretary Roderick Q. Hickman said his department has offered to work with sheriff’s officials.

He said state authorities want to know what’s causing the problems there so they don’t spill into the statewide prison system. The Los Angeles County jails often feed into the prison system.

In Central California, four inmates were hurt in fighting that began Tuesday at the California Correctional Training Facility in Soledad. That uprising prompted authorities to place a prison unit on lockdown Wednesday.

The fracas, which involved hundreds of black, Hispanic and white inmates, was not thought to be connected to the violence in the Los Angeles County jail, corrections agency spokesman J.P. Tremblay said.

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