Press Release

IACHR Expresses Concern on Acts of Violence in Prison in the United States

September 26, 2012

Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expresses its concern over the acts of violence that took place in the New Folsom State prison, in California, United States. The IACHR calls on the Federal and State authorities to implement the necessary measures to prevent the repetition of similar incidents.

According to the information received, on September 19, 2012, a riot took place at the California state prison known as New Folsom. The information alleges that around 60 inmates were involved. During the riot and the actions taken by the prison authorities to control the situation, at least 11 inmates were injured, one of them with a bullet.

The IACHR observes with concern that on December 7, 2011, there was another riot in the same jail where around 50 inmates were involved, and that on May 20, 2011, a similar violent episode took place involving 150 inmates, of which two were seriously injured. The State of California has been adopting measures to address a deep and historical problem of prison overcrowding.

The IACHR reiterates that States, as guarantors of the rights of the persons deprived of liberty, must adopt all necessary measures to protect the life and personal integrity of the inmates. The IACHR urges the State to investigate, on its own initiative and with due diligence, these acts of violence. The requested investigations must aim to identify the causes of these acts of violence and to find effective responses to prevent the repetition of similar incidents.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 120/12