Prison death rates rise: California man on death row dies as another gets killed in a fight

Two inmates attacked Joseph Martinez using a made-up weapon at the Facility C general population maximum-security yard in Calipatria State Prison, southern California

A day after a prison inmate was killed in an attack in a California jail, a man on death row died in a hospital on Saturday, February 15. The prisoner identified as John Abel, who was sentenced to death in 1997 for killing a man in a robbery at an Orange County bank, died on Saturday morning, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said. Officials said no foul play is suspected in the death of the inmate who was 75-year-old, according to the Associated Press.

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He was convicted for fatally shooting a man who had withdrawn $20,000 from a bank in Tustin on January 4, 1991, and carrying out a string of armed robberies before the shooting.

Prison attack claims life of 21-year-old California inmate

Abel's death came a day after Joseph Martinez, 21, was killed after two other inmates attacked him at the Calipatria State Prison. Martinez, who had been serving a 24-year-to life sentence for attempted murder, suffered a cut in his chest and back. He was taken to the prison's medical facility and later transferred to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The incident reported at around 3 pm on Friday saw two inmates attacking Martinez using a made-up weapon in the Facility C general population maximum-security yard, authorities said.

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Correctional officers were reported of using chemical agents and one non-lethal 40-mm round to thwart them from attacking further. Officials said two suspects were put in an Administrative Segregation Unit and will be investigated for their involvement.

Mississippi prison death: 17th inmate dead in 2 months

A man died at a hospital in Jackson on Saturday, making him the 17th such death in Mississippi prisons in the last two months. The Mississippi Department of Corrections, in a statement, said the death of the 54-year-old inmate Bobby Lewis Vance involved no foul play.

Vance was an inmate at the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in Rankin County and served a 25-year sentence after he got convicted of two armed robberies in 2004. Officials have not released the cause of Vance's death, and an autopsy is reported to be pending.

The rising death toll in prisons across Mississippi since December 2019 has prompted a civil rights investigation by the Justice Department earlier this month. Federal prosecutors are investigating the condition of four state prisons, including an inquiry on whether correctional officers are adequately protecting prisoners from harm. The quality of health care and suicide prevention services will also be investigated.

The civil rights division of the Justice Department, according to a statement, will examine the conditions of the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman, the South Mississippi Correctional Institution, the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility, and the Wilkinson County Correctional Facility.