Guards at an isolated state prison have created a "culture of racism," engage in alarming use of force against inmates and have a code of silence encouraged by the union that represents most corrections officers, the California inspector general said Wednesday.
The scathing report calls for management and other changes at High Desert State Prison in the northeast corner of the state.
More broadly, the report finds rising violence statewide in special housing units designed to protect vulnerable inmates, including sex offenders, gang dropouts and prisoners with physical disabilities.
The months-long investigation was sparked by reports that some guards at the Susanville prison mistreated inmates with disabilities and set up sex offenders for assaults because of the nature of their crimes.
The investigation also found evidence of "a culture of racism and lack of acceptance of ethnic differences" among correctional officers, three-quarters of whom are white.
Inspector General Robert Barton said the California Correctional Peace Officers Association advised members not to cooperate and filed a lawsuit and collective bargaining grievance in a bid to hinder the investigation.