The Salinas Valley State Prison, more popularly known as Soledad State Prison, is located in Monterey County, California, in the city of Soledad. The Soledad State Prison is a facility that is meant to house both minimum and maximum security level inmates. The Soledad State Prison is solely for male prisoners.
The irony behind The Soledad State Prison is the fact that the city’s name, “Soledad,” means “solitude” in the Spanish language, more than an apt name for a penitentiary. The Soledad State Prison opened its doors in May of 1996, with a facility that was designed to hold just over 2,200 prisoners. However, Soledad State Prison has become over populated, housing as many as 4,500 as of 2007. Due to rising numbers in the population, the gymnasium of the prison has since been converted into a dormitory facility.
The Salinas Valley State Prison is on 300 acres of land, divided into four yards, A, B, C, and D. The C Yard has become notorious as being the most violent on the premises. There are housing units surrounding these yards, which the highest level of security risk inmates, both Level III and Level IV.
A distinct factor that plays in the violence found in the Soledad State Prison is its distinct segregation of ethnic groups, which are separated as southern and northern Mexican, white, black, and Asians. Most of the violence that erupts between the ethnic groups usually involves the southern Mexican groups and the whites, causing an internal ethnic war.