The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has announced the secure Level I facilities at the California Correctional Institution in Tehachapi and Correctional Training Facility in Soledad will close by June 30 of next year due to population reduction.
The closures are estimated to save CDCR $45 million annually.
Currently, there are approximately 90 staff members assigned to the secure Level 1 facility at CCI.
"While closing the facility may result in staff transfers within the respective county (Kern), layoffs are not expected," said Dana Simas, press secretary for CDCR.
According to Simas, CDCR will work on a case-by-case basis to place each incarcerated individual in an appropriate prison to meet their rehabilitative and custody needs.
"All credits earned for self-help, educational, and vocational programs at a closing institution will transfer with the individual. Individuals will have the opportunity to finish courses in progress," Simas said.
CCI's Level I currently houses 47 percent of the population.
"It has a secure perimeter that includes razor wire, to prevent escape," Simas said. "Incarcerated people assigned to the Level I facility at CCI will transfer to another Secure Level I facility if required, or to any appropriate location if Secure Level I status is not required."
The closure is due to the declining population in the state’s 35 prisons, which has happened due to a range of measures taken over the past decade, including legislation (AB 109), whose goal is to transition supervised homeless inmates into permanent housing.
In October 2006, CDCR reached its all-time-high population of 173,479. As of April 22 of this year, there are 90,867 incarcerated people in California’s 35 prisons, Simas said.
In September, CDCR announced the deactivation of Deuel Vocational Institution in Tracy by the end of September. The last time California closed a state prison was Northern California Women’s Facility in Stockton in 2003.
In 2020, CDCR ended its final three contracts with private, for-profit prisons, including Desert View MCCF, Golden State MCCF, and the McFarland Female Community Reentry Facility. Additionally in 2020, CDCR exited two of its three publicly contracted facilities, including Delano MCCF and Shafter MCCF. The department will exit the Taft MCCF by May 31 of this year, according to a CDCR news release.
In October 2020, CDCR announced the closure of eight fire camps, four of which were in the Northern Region. These camps had been operating at well below capacity for some time. The depopulation allowed CAL FIRE and CDCR to consolidate resources into the remaining 35 conservation camps to better facilitate the program.
Said Simas, "CDCR continues to work closely with CAL FIRE to maintain adequate fire response and community involvement."
The minimum facility of CCI is the oldest in Tehachapi's prison, and the original part of the prison that was once the women's facility was opened in 1932 and closed due to damage sustained in the 1952 earthquake.
The medium security facility was added on in the late 60s, and the two maximum units were added sometime after 1981, according to the CDCR website.