Monday, October 26, 2009

CDCR to Close Three Community Correctional Facilities Due to Downward Trend in Low-Security Inmates

Move would save $15.2 million

Sacramento — Due to a significant decrease and anticipated decline in low-security inmates, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) is closing three privately run Community Correctional Facilities (CCFs).

“There are a number of factors for the downward trend in lower-level inmates entering the system, including recent parole reforms that authorize minor parole violators to be diverted to community programs instead of prison,” said Undersecretary of Operations Scott Kernan. “Meanwhile, CDCR prisons continue to face overcrowding for medium and maximum security inmates, who serve longer sentences, and due to public safety risks, are not eligible for low-security housing provided by these facilities.”

This past year, the state prison population has dropped by nearly 5,000 inmates, from approximately 172,200 to about 167,350. Approximately half of the drop in population were low-security level inmates.

“In the prison system, population management is extremely complicated with a number of factors that go into determining where inmates can be placed,” added Kernan. “The reality is there is a segment of the inmate population which requires housing in a celled environment and cannot be placed in a lower-level facility due to their time to serve, conviction history or institutional behavior.”

CDCR today issued 60-day notices to Cornell Corrections, which operates the Baker Community Correctional Facility in Baker and the Mesa Verde Correctional Facility in Bakersfield, and to the GEO Group, which operates the McFarland Community Correctional Facility in McFarland. The contracts for the three facilities was set to expire on June 30, 2010 and provided a combined 822 low-custody beds.

The department will issue an Invitation for Bid in early November to use private facilities for an alternative population, such as female inmates.

California law authorizes CDCR to contract with public and private entities to house low-custody inmates in community correctional facilities. There are 5,913 beds in 13 community correctional facilities statewide; however, 1,200 of them are empty. Earlier this year, the department sent a team of inmate classification and custody experts on a statewide evaluation of inmates who may be safely housed in CCF beds. That search confirmed there was not enough who qualified for CCF placement. The department also deactivated more than 1,000 lower-level beds in CDCR’s system to address the changing demographics of the inmate population.

Closing the Baker, Mesa Verde and McFarland community correctional facilities will save $12.7 million in contract dollars and an additional $2.5 million by eliminating 22 state positions by redirection or layoffs of staff assigned to monitor those facilities.

These Community Correctional Facilities cannot house inmates who are sex offenders, inmates serving a life sentence, or inmates who are disabled, need mental health treatment or have a chronic illness.

CDCR houses minimum-security inmates in minimum support facilities at state prisons and conservation camps.