Paul Flores has been attacked twice in prison. How violent is the Coalinga facility?

Paul Flores, the convicted killer of Kristin Smart, has been attacked twice inside Coalinga’s Pleasant Valley State Prison in the eight months he’s been incarcerated there.

He first arrived at the prison in early August after spending time at North Kern State Prison — a facility that acts as a “reception center” for inmates before they are assigned to a more permanent location. He spent about four months at North Kern, beginning March 30, 2023, about a week after he was sentenced to 25 years to life for the murder of Smart, who disappeared from Cal Poly over Memorial Day weekend in 1996 and was last seen with Flores.

Just weeks after Flores arrived at Pleasant Valley State Prison on Aug. 23, he was attacked by another inmate, which sent him to the hospital with serious injuries — including a stab wound to the neck. He was transported back to Pleasant Valley State Prison the following day in fair condition.

That inmate, Jason Budrow, has since been charged with attempted murder and assault. He is currently serving two life terms for two separate murders — one that sent him to prison in 2012 and another while he was already behind bars in 2021. In the latter case, Budrow killed fellow inmate Roger Kibbe, the serial rapist and murderer known as the “I-5 strangler.”

On Wednesday — a little over seven months later — Flores was attacked again by a different inmate.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation told The Tribune that the inmate stabbed Flores and two “inmate-manufactured weapons” were found at the scene. Flores was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries and has since returned to the prison.

The corrections department has not yet released the name of the suspect in Flores’ most recent attack.

Pleasant Valley State Prison provides “modern long-term housing and professional rehabilitative services for inmates of all custody levels,” according to the CDCR’s website.

“We maintain the highest public safety security protocols,” the website said in the prison’s description.

So, are two attacks in eight months an anomaly? The Tribune took a look at the prison’s public safety record as part of its new Reality Check series.

Pleasant Valley State Prison had no murders, 2 attempted murders, in one year

Pleasant Valley is one of 34 state prisons in California.

It’s among a group of 10 classified as men’s general population state prison facilities, including Avenal State Prison, Calipatria State Prison, Centinela State Prison, Correctional Training Facility in Soledad, Chuckawalla Valley State Prison, Ironwood State Prison, Mule Creek State Prison, California State Prison Solano and Valley State Prison.

A general population facility is where minimum and medium security inmates go after a reception center prison, like California Men’s Colony in San Luis Obispo or North Kern State Prison.

According to CDCR, reception centers compile an inmate’s criminal records, life histories, medical and psychological histories and social relationships. Then prison staff determine the inmate’s classification score and institutional placement. Inmates can be placed in general population facilities or high-security facilities.

The most recent data specific to Pleasant Valley is from June 2022 to June 2023, and it shows there were two attempted murders of inmates during that year.

One inmate attempted murder at Pleasant Valley occurred in September 2022, and the other was in January 2023. The alleged attempted murder of Flores in August 2023 occurred outside that data window.

No murders occurred in any of the 10 male general population prison facilities in that time period, the data shows, and more than half had two or fewer attempted murders. Calipatria had the most at 15, followed by Ironwood with nine and Solano with three.

Pleasant Valley was one of seven prisons that had fewer than 10 assaults. Ironwood had 22, Avenal had 13 and Mule Creek had 10.

Five assaults between inmates at Pleasant Valley occurred during that same time period. None of those assaults was with a deadly weapon, the data shows. Two assaults took place in June 2022, one in September 2022 and two in February 2023.

Data shows there were 303 battery incidents between inmates at Pleasant Valley in that 12-month period — the second highest of the group — none of which used a deadly weapon.

Avenal had 341, Centinela had 276, Mule Creek had 176, Calipatria had 168, Valley had 151, Ironwood had 143, Solano had 104, Chuckawalla Valley had 60 and Soledad had 37.

During that same time period across all 34 California prisons, CDCR records show 174 attempted inmate homicides and 19 inmate murders, in addition to 195 inmate assaults of which 46 used a weapon.

Data shows there were 3,099 total batteries, 449 which used a weapon and 600 that resulted in severe bodily injury.

More recent data shows incidents between inmates in all state prisons ticking slightly up from February 2023 to this February.

During that time, there were 230 attempted inmate homicides and 22 inmate murders.

There were 237 inmate assaults — 58 of which used a weapon. There were 3,693 batteries, 484 of which used a weapon and 659 of which caused severe bodily injury, the data shows.

New prison-specific data is expected by August.