The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has recently announced the closure of two state prisons, the Deuel Vocational Institution (DVI) in Tracy and the California Correctional Center in Susanville. This decision has caused a stir in the state, with many people concerned about the economic and social impacts of such closures. The closure of the DVI in Tracy has already taken place, while the closure of the California Correctional Center in Susanville is still pending. The city of Susanville, where local officials say they face economic devastation if they lose more than 1,000 prison jobs, has sued the state in an effort to prevent the closure.
A Lassen County judge issued a temporary restraining order that stopped the closure for now. The consequences of prison closures could be dire for residents and businesses that rely on the economy of incarceration. Local 1000 of the International Union of Service Employees, which represents prison employees, argues that if facilities were closed, workers “risk losing their livelihoods and will be forced to change their lives and families, decimating their community in the process.” Inmates are also affected by prison closures. Duane Palm, who is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole on two counts of first-degree murder and other counts, wrote in court documents that the prison's remote location makes it difficult for loved ones to visit.
Lionell Tholmer, an inmate at Mule Creek Prison (MCSP) in Ione, says one of the shipyards was closed. Ricky Godfrey, an inmate at California Solano State Prison (SOL), has wasted time in the yard and was not receiving commissary packages, which are basic privileges that inmates receive. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) oversees 34 adult prisons. According to Orlando, the MCSP has recently temporarily redirected 25 officers to California State Prison, Sacramento, due to staff shortages.
This summer, prisoners tried to file an amicus brief in support of the closure, detailing the problems at the center. The case in rural Lassen County could herald conflict as California's inmate population declines and other prisons are considered to close.The closure of two state prisons in California is a complex issue with far-reaching implications for both inmates and employees. It is clear that this decision will have a significant impact on communities across the state and will require careful consideration from all stakeholders.