Is Wasco State Prison Dangerous?

Wasco State Prison is a multi-level facility. If you wonder, “Is Wasco State Prison dangerous,” it could be. Read more.

Is Wasco State Prison Dangerous
Is Wasco State Prison Dangerous

The Wasco State Prison is one of the most well-known prisons in California, with a high capacity to keep offenders under control. It houses different types of prisoners, including those with life sentences, and thus many people wonder if it is a dangerous place.

These thoughts and assumptions make adjusting difficult when someone is sent to this prison, but it is important to know. So, is Wasco State Prison dangerous?

The Wasco State Prison is not only a high-security prison; thus, it is not necessarily dangerous.

However, a few incidents in the past have built its reputation as a dangerous prison, creating a disturbance among offenders and inmates. This article informs you about everything you need to know about the Wasco State Prison’s safety conditions.

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Wasco State Prison

Wasco State Prison is a state penitentiary in Wasco, California, that started operation in 1991. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) operates and maintains this prison. It has been home to some notorious and dangerous criminals in the past.

The prison has a capacity of around 5,000 inmates in four primary housing units, including the Reception Center (RC), General Population (GP), Security Housing Unit (SHU), and Administrative Segregation Unit (ASU).

The reception center has a 4,580-bed capacity; the CDCR receives inmates in the reception center to review their background, physical health, and mental health to choose the right facility for their needs.

Is Wasco State Prison Dangerous?

Wasco State Prison has minimum, medium, and maximum security levels in its six-story building. The building only houses male inmates over 52 acres of land. The prison building houses prisoners of different levels.

The Wasco State Prison is not dangerous at the minimum security level. Still, the death of a few inmates in the past year has earned its reputation as a dangerous prison among offenders.

Inmates with a high-security risk are in the 48 single cells in the administrative segregation unit.

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Wasco State Prison Incident 2001

In 2001, psychiatric patient Paul Posada killed a recently-admitted offender, 18-year-old Gary Avila.

When Gary Avila arrived at Wasco State Prison, he was placed in the same cell as Paul Posada. Paul was a psychiatric patient, considered unfit to share a cell with. However, the officials did not realize that he could be fatal to Gary. The next morning after Gary was admitted to the prison, he had a bloody bed sheet looped around his neck.

When the prison staff found Gary Avila’s body, Paul Posada confessed to killing him, “Yeah, I did it. He messed up.”

Gary was convicted of being a gang member and possessing a gun and sentenced to two years in prison. At the same time, Paul is a serial criminal with a psychiatric issue history. Two months before the incident, a court-ordered analysis described his condition with words like "paranoid, explosive, aggressive, antisocial, depressive, and schizoid."

Prison officials mentioned that both offenders seemed compatible cellmates on papers, and the guards missed warning signs that Paul posed a threat. An investigation also revealed that the prison officials held back potential evidence from the district attorney.

Prison spokesman John Katavich covered the situation but had to acknowledge the need for changes regarding inmate background checks.

Wasco State Prison Incident 2022

Recently, Wasco State Prison observed another similar incident when Eugene Stroud allegedly killed Scott Gunter.

The prison staff found Scott Gunter unresponsive in his cell in the evening; they rushed Scott to treatment, but he succumbed to his injuries half an hour later. While the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has been investigating the incident, they suspect it to be a homicide.

Scott Gunter has been in Wasco State Prison for a few months to serve a two-year sentence, while Eugene was sent to Wasco from Yolo County for a 25-year sentence for corporal injury charges.

How to Improve Safety in Prisons?

Considering the above incidents in the past years, “Is Wasco State Prison dangerous?" is a subjective question. People living in minimum security cells with minor offenders might not be in danger.

But conducting a thorough background check before admitting inmates is important to protect other prisoners. Ignoring the criminal background and mental health of the criminals can lead to serious consequences.

Is there a Medical Health Facility at Wasco State Prison?

The Wasco State Prison has a medical facility to treat inmates' health issues along with an on-site dental clinic for the prisoners.

They also have mental health professionals on duty to help people with mental health needs. The prison's New Direction program is a 28-day intensive treatment for drug and alcohol addiction.

The Bottom Line

Wasco is one of the largest prisons in California, with a capacity of 5,000 prisoners. The building has different sections for prisoners ranging from minimum and medium to maximum security.

While the minimum and medium security prisons do not have dangerous criminals, people often wonder, “Is Wasco State Prison dangerous?” Wasco prison keeps disruptive male inmates in its maximum security facility. It is not considered dangerous if the serious offenders are kept in separate cells away from other inmates.

Yet, incidents in the past have added a question mark to Wasco State Prison's security for inmates and staff. However, the prison offers rehabilitation facilities for drug and alcohol abusers to reduce aggression and addiction among prisoners.


What is Wasco State Prison known for?

The Wasco State Prison is one of the most widely-known prisons for male inmates, with a capacity of up to 5,000 prisoners. Inmates with a high-security risk are kept in one of the 48 single cells in the administrative segregation unit.

Is Wasco a Level 4 prison?

Wasco is a mixed custody prison with minimum, medium, and maximum security levels. Thus, it holds level II and IV inmates in two segregated units and a general population unit.

What is the safest US prison?

The Administrative-maximum security prison (ADX) at the Federal Correctional Complex in Florence, Colorado, is the safest US prison as inmates have minimum contact with others. It ensures the safety of other inmates, preventing any harm to them.

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