Two inmates have been killed over the last three weeks inside a cellblock at the California’s Lancaster state prison, renewing concerns about overcrowding, reports the Los Angeles Times. The latest victim was found Tuesday, stuffed under the bottom bunk of his cell and wrapped in a bedsheet. The killing came two weeks after another inmate was found wrapped in a bloody sheet in his cell. Some prisoner-rights advocates say the incidents highlight the danger of having two potentially violent prisoners in one cell. Double-celling is one way that Lancaster and other prison facilities have been dealing with the growing inmate population.
Said Cayenne Bird, whose son was once incarcerated at Lancaster and who heads a support group for prisoners’ families: “They’re carelessly double-celling the mentally ill with regular inmates.” Lancaster houses 4,500 minimum-, high-medium and maximum-custody inmates but was designed to hold fewer than half that number when it opened in 1993 as the only state prison in Los Angeles County. A prison spokesman said: “There’s only three officers assigned to each cellblock, and each one holds 200 inmates. How can you do it? We have procedures in place with security checks to ensure everyone’s safe. But anything can happen at any given time.”