In a Tuesday press release, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation announced that both the Chuckawalla Valley State Prison and the California City Correctional Facility will be shut down as prison facilities in the next few years. There will be other California prisons expected to have areas closed down as well.
Specifically, the Chuckawalla Valley State Prison (CVSP) in Blythe was given a shutdown date of March 2025, with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) ending a $32 million annual lease of the California City Correctional Facility with CoreCivic, ending the use of that prison in March 2024. Areas of other prisons slated for closure include the Folsom Women’s Facility, Facility C in Pelican Bay State Prison, West Facility in California Men’s Colony, Facility A in California Rehabilitation Center, Facility D in California Institution for Men, and Facility D in California Correctional Institution. All affected prisoners will be moved to prisons matching their incarceration level, with the state being given the option to reopen the closed facilities at the latter 6 prisons should the need arise again in the future.
According to the CDCR, the closures were made due to the high costs in running those prisons, the housing needs for prisoners, and other factors.
“The two prisons were chosen pursuant to criteria set forth by the Legislature in Penal Code Section 2067,” said the CDCR in a press release on Tuesday. “CDCR’s leadership carefully evaluated the options for prison closures, pursuant to the 2022-23 budget and Penal Code requirements, and took into account several factors including cost to operate, impact of closure on the surrounding communities and the workforce; housing needs for all populations; long-term investments in state-owned and operated correctional facilities; public safety and rehabilitation; and durability of the state’s solution to prison overcrowding.”
The Closure of the Blythe and California City facilities are only the latest to face the chopping block in recent years. 8 CDCR prisoner wildfire camps were closed down in 2020, with the California Correctional Center in Susanville being announced for closure in 2021 and is expected to fully close next year following attempted court action to stop it.
Chuckawalla Valley State Prison, California City Correctional Facility to shut down
While these cuts were made with saving money in the state budget in mind, a declining prisoner population due to Californian laws reducing sentences and finding alternative punishments has made the use of some facilities obsolete in recent years, with the trend currently continuing, helping lead to Tuesday’s announcement.
“They can run through the excuses all they want, but the fact of the matter is that California has been incarcerating less people, and they can use those lowered numbers as justification to close down more prisons,” criminal lawyer Stephen Reed explained to the Globe Tuesday. “They didn’t say that in the press release, nor did they say that Governor [Gavin] Newsom hates prisons and always jumps at the chance to go after more closures and restrictions. He actually made a pledge to. One way you do that is to cut the budget, leaving the CDCR to make some drastic decisions. And you wonder why California has such a big crime problem.”
“What they also didn’t say was how many people would lose their jobs this way. Most prisons are in more rural areas where good jobs are scarce. We saw the eruption in Susanville, and now two more Californian cities that need good jobs are down. And like Susanville, we’re probably going to see some lawsuits dragging these out. These are big closures, and it makes you question if the state knows what they’re doing.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, no lawsuits to stop the prison closures in Blythe and California City have been announced.
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