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Wednesday, Apr 02 2014 06:00 AM

Grand Jury calls for repair of leaky roofs, roads and new kitchen at CCI

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The minimum facility at California Correctional Institution, Tehachapi, are among the oldest prison buildings in the state. The Kern County Grand Jury has again recommended repair of interior roads there. Also recommended was repair of leaky roofs and replacement of the Central Kitchen. Tehachapi News file photo

Officers move inmates within the secure area of the California Correctional Institution at Tehachapi. Tehachapi News file photo

Leaky roofs, interior roads and the need for a new Central Kitchen at the California Correctional Institution at Tehachapi were identified as problems by the Kern County Jury during a recent visit to the state prison at Tehachapi.

And although the state may need new prisons, the Grand Jury recommends that attention be given to those items as a "priority over newer institutions."

The Grand Jury visited the prison on Sept. 9, 2013; it's report was made public on March 27.

CCI spokesperson Brian Skaggs said the institution has received the report and will respond by the deadline which is within 90 days of receipt.

The Grand Jury visited CCI in 2012 and its report of that visit also noted that roads within CCI "are still in need of repair" and also stated: "as previously recommended by prior Grand Jury reports when funds become available, the surface roads within CCI should be repaired."

That was the only recommendation from that visit and no response from the institution was required. The state prison depends upon funding from the legislature.

Old facility

As noted in the Grand Jury report, CCI -- located on approximately 1650 acres of land in the Cummings Valley near Tehachapi -- is one of the state's oldest prison facilities.

The land was purchased in 1929 for $110,000 with the intent to be used as a female only institution In 1933 the original California Institute for Women, California's first facility specifically for female inmates, opened on the site. In July 1952, the facility suffered extensive earthquake damage. The facility was then closed and 417 inmates were transferred to the new California Institution for Women Frontera in Corona.

The facility was reopened in 1955 as a branch of California Institution for Men, housing male offenders and by the end of one year was filled to capacity.

In 1964 the institution was renamed California Correctional Institution and G. Perry Lloyd was appointed as the first superintendent.

The facility is the third oldest prison in the California Dept. of Corrections and Rehabilitation system. Only San Quentin and Folsom Prisons are older.

Population

The Grand Jury report also provides information as to prison population and staffing, at the time of the visit last September. It also noted the various levels of incarceration at CCI which include open dormitories, Security Housing Units (SHU) and Administrative Segregation Units (ASU). Lower security inmates (Level I) are house at the prison along with Level II, III and those in the SHU and ASU.

On the date of inspection the population was 4,716. Prior to passage of Assembly Bill 109 on Oct. 1, 2009, CCI had an average population of 5,769. AB 109 provided restructuring of prisons and shifted more inmates from the state system to counties, along with more probation and parole.

Staffing

At the time of the Grand Jury visit last September, staffing at CCI included 36 correctional lieutenants with one vacancy, 94 correctional sergeants with eight vacancies, 994 correctional officers with 15 vacancies and 428 non-sworn support staff.

Not addressed in the Grand Jury report was the lay-offs at the institution due to staffing cuts related to AB 109.

Skaggs told the Tehachapi News last week that just about everyone who wanted to return to a job at CCI has been returned and that the institution is short of staff currently, largely because of staff transfers to the new facility the state is operating at California City.

CCI lost about 70 staff to that facility, which the state is leasing from the Corrections Corporation of America.

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