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Calif. inmates had access to employee data, guards say

Associated Press Writer

SACRAMENTO, Calif.- Inmates gained access to personal information about prison employees, including their Social Security numbers, after the state unlawfully allowed them to work in a warehouse storing the data, a guard union said Thursday.

Inmates at Pelican Bay State Prison also had access to papers containing employees' birth dates and pension account information, as well as prison blueprints, said the California Correctional Peace Officers Association.

State and union officials said they didn't know how many prisoners might have gotten hold of the personal information.

The inmates' work in the warehouse violated a law barring the Corrections Department from assigning prisoners to jobs giving them access to others' personal information, union president Mike Jimenez said.

The department is aware of the claims and is investigating, spokeswoman Elaine Jennings told The Associated Press.

"At this time, very preliminary reports indicate that none of the information got outside of the institution," she said.

One prisoner found with confidential records had asked an inmate serving time for identity theft to teach him how to use the information, Jimenez said.

Inmates who gained access to the information were the least serious offenders at the prison, the union said. Pelican Pay, in the state's northwest corner, opened in 1989 and is also home to some of the state's most serious criminals.

It was unclear Thursday how long the inmates had access to the data.

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