Inmates at CCI in Tehachapi participate in their own Relay for Life in this July 2016 file photo.

Tehachapi News file photo

The road to Tehachapi's prison is a bumpy one.

"The ride into the California Correctional Institution in Tehachapi was like getting onto Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride at Disneyland, Anaheim," declares a news release issued Thursday, Jan. 12, by the Kern County grand jury along with its findings following a September inspection.

All joking aside, the Law and Justice Committee took seriously the potholes it encountered during an "extremely bumpy ride," along with two other main issues — fire suppression and security cameras.

"We knew that these things needed to be fixed and have been working to fix them, but money is always the issue," Lt. Brian Parriott said when contacted for response to the grand jury's findings.

According to the report released Thursday, the potholes and deterioration of the road leading to the facility have been noted in every yearly report for the past five years.

Parriott said CCI has received funding from the state of California to begin stage one of resurfacing of the road.

The grand jury said a fire suppression system should be a "priority" because it's critical for staff and inmate safety.

While Parriott said "most areas (at CCI) have fire suppression systems," the grand jury found that facilities A and B have none. However, a full-time staff member is assigned to "fire watch" 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

A request was submitted and approved by the state, but the plan has not been finalized or funded.

"It (the plan) has to go through the whole process before we can upgrade," Parriott explained.

The grand jury also recommended the installation of security cameras in all visiting areas, budget permitting.

"We use cameras in some of our visiting rooms to help monitor inmates," Parriott said. "Installing additional ones is an extra measure. By knowing they (inmates) are on camera, they will generally be less likely to do something inappropriate."

According to the report, CCI has cameras throughout the institution, except for facility B's visitation area. Recording loops are kept for 48 hours, except the ones from facility D, which are kept for 20 days.

The final recommendation from the grand jury regarded maintenance.

"We are in the midst of constructing new medical clinics and examination rooms," Parriott said. 

Parriott said that because CCI was built in the 1920s and '30s, then added onto in the 1960s, requirements have "obviously changed." The lieutenant could not comment on any specific maintenance needed at the institution.

The grand jury wrote, "In spite of its age, the prison remains a very functional institutional."

The jury noted the institution's water conservation efforts: "Currently, the prison has been able to conserve water by decreasing its usage by 38 percent."

On the day the grand jury visited, the total population was 3,499. The authorized capacity is 4,330, the report said.