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Prisons in Crisis
Dozens of burned-out bunks are seen in a dormitory heavily damaged by fire, during a tour of the California Institution for Men in Chino, Calif., Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2009. Blood-soaked mattresses, singed bedding and abandoned backboards and medical supplies littered the campus of the Chino prison Tuesday, a testament to the violence of a weekend riot that shut down part of the institution and injured nearly 200 inmates. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

Dozens of burned-out bunks are seen in a dormitory heavily damaged by fire at the California Institution for Men in Chino, Calif., on Aug. 11, 2009. Blood-soaked mattresses, singed bedding and abandoned backboards and medical supplies littered the campus of the Chino prison, a testament to the violence of a weekend riot that shut down part of the institution and injured nearly 200 inmates. (AP)

The scene at the prison in Chino, California last weekend was bloody mayhem and riot.

For four hours, in a prison stuffed to double its capacity, inmates rampaged out of control, fighting with shards of glass and broken water pipes, burning down a dorm, leaving 175 prisoners injured and 55 in hospital.

The United States has by far the highest incarceration rate in the world. Now, in deep recession, California and many other states are not sure they can afford it. Some are letting prisoners go.

This hour, On Point: The Chino prison riot, and its message on American incarceration.

You can join the conversation. Tell us what you think — here on this page, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

Guests:

From Los Angeles we’re joined by Carol Williams, legal affairs reporter for the Los Angeles Times. She’s been covering the aftermath of the Chino riot: see “At Chino, mute evidence speaks of violent riot” and “Report predicted violence at Chino prison dorm hit by race riots.”

Joining us from Berkeley, Calif., is Kara Dansky, executive director of the Stanford Criminal Justice Center.

Joining us from Washington, DC, is Marc Mauer, executive director of The Sentencing Project. He’s author of “Race to Incarcerate” and editor of “Invisible Punishment: The Collateral Consequences of Mass Imprisonment.”

And from Houston, Texas, we’re joined by Byron Price, professor of political science at Texas Southern University and Interim Director of the Barbara Jordan Institute for Policy Research. He’s author of “Merchandizing Prisoners: Who Really Pays for Prison Privatization?”

More links:

You can see the aftermath of the Chino riots, in panorama shots at the LA Times website: outside and inside.

The U.S. tops the world in both prison population and incarceration rate.  This interactive graphic at NYTimes.com shows the data.

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