A fledgling program at the new state prison in Lancaster to have minimum-security inmates do community service work around the Antelope Valley is being hobbled by an unlikely problem--a shortage of inmates.
Since its Feb. 1 opening, the prison’s population has grown to more than 3,700. About 200 are minimum-security inmates potentially eligible for such work, but the number was cut to 90 recently when many were ousted as punishment for staging a protest, prison officials said.
Because there are other chores for the remaining minimum-security inmates, officials thus far have fielded only one of four planned work crews.
The shortage stems from a protest last month by the Level 1 inmates over a softball game canceled when an argument broke out among the players, prison spokesman Kenn Hicks said. Fifty-three inmates were disciplined or reassigned out of the Level 1 program. Community work crews are aimed at making prisons more popular with nearby residents.