A front-page article by Mark Arax in the August 1996 Los Angeles Times claimed that COR was "the most troubled of the 32 state prisons." At the time, COR officers had shot and killed more inmates "than any prison in the country" in COR's eight years of existence; based on interviews and documents, Arax concluded that many shootings of prisoners were "not justified" and that in some cases "the wrong inmate was killed by mistake." Furthermore, the article alleged that "officers... and their supervisors staged fights between inmates" during "gladiator days." In November 1996, CBS Evening News broadcast "video footage of an inmate fatally shot by guards" at COR in 1994; this death "spawned a probe by the Federal Bureau of Investigation of alleged inmate abuses by guards."
A March 1997 episode of the CBS News 60 Minutes discussed the 1994 death, "the alleged cover-up and the alarming number of shootings at the prison." The California Department of Corrections issued the results of its own investigation in November 1997, which found "isolated incidents of staff misconduct" but no "'widespread staff conspiracy' to abuse prisoners."
A film entitled "Maximum Security University," which used prison surveillance tapes showing four 1989-1993 fights "end[ing] when a guard fatally shoots a combatant," was released in February 1998. That month, eight California correctional officers and supervisors were indicted "on federal criminal civil rights charges in connection with inmate fights that occurred at Corcoran State Prison in 1994." After a trial, the eight men were "acquitted of all charges" in June 2000.
Subsequently, COR has been featured in at least two episodes of MSNBC's Lockup series: "Inside Corcoran" (which first aired as early as 2003) and "Return to Corcoran" (which first aired in 2005).
 Notable inmates
The prison's most prominent inmates include: