Friday, November 6, 2009

Prison Plans for Chino Include Converting Former Juvenile Facility to House Adult Males

Conversion is Part of Effort to Satisfy Lawsuits Ordering Increases in Medical/Mental Health Beds

SACRAMENTO –The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), working collaboratively with the federal receiver's office, announced plans today to convert the former Heman G. Stark Youth Correctional Facility (Stark) to house 1,802 adult male inmates. In addition, the department plans a 943-bed reception center facility for the housing of adult male inmates.

"In light of the significant pressure from the courts to build capacity for mental health and medical services for inmates, the department has reviewed all of its options carefully," said CDCR Secretary Matthew Cate. "Working in collaboration with the federal receiver and the special master on mental health, we have selected the Chino site to provide mental health services. The construction of a new 943-bed facility will help the department in its need for reception center beds for newly arriving inmates to be assessed, processed and assigned to another facility."

The last juveniles at Stark are scheduled to leave by March 2010. Stark will be used as a reception center for adult males until 2013, at which time it is planned to house general population males with a low/medium security level. Those inmates will include many requiring outpatient services for medical and mental health.

The revamped facility will include a central treatment clinic that will provide 60 high-acuity medical and mental health beds. CDCR is working closely with the federal receiver in the Plata v Schwarzenegger court case and the special master in the Coleman v Schwarzenegger case to provide housing and treatment space for its population.

Several factors were considered in the decision to repurpose Stark for use by adult males. Stark can be adapted for adult offenders with minimal modification and the property has been historically used for correctional programs. The site also will be less costly than constructing a new correctional facility. The proposed project is planned to be funded with lease revenue bonds authorized by Assembly Bill (AB) 900. The revamped facility is scheduled to be completed in Fiscal Year 2013-14.

Included in this plan is also a proposed 45-bed acute/intermediate care facility at the California Institution for Women (CIW) to serve female inmates with mental health needs. This project is estimated to start construction in early spring 2010, with occupancy expected to begin in the winter of 2011.

The department will submit the projects as part of a comprehensive statewide plan to be filed on November 6 in response to the Coleman lawsuit. CDCR is required to provide new beds and treatment space for more than 1,400 inmates requiring mental health services enrolled in CDCR's Enhanced Outpatient Program (EOP), pursuant to an order of the Coleman court. The federal receiver requires that CDCR also provide new beds and treatment space for more than 1,400 inmates requiring medical services in an outpatient setting.

The second project calls for construction of the 943-bed reception center. The reception center facility will add nearly 275,000 gross square feet and will include housing units, a warehouse, medical services and administrative support buildings. This project also will be funded with lease-revenue bonds authorized under AB 900. Once built, the Reception center will help reduce overcrowded conditions in local jails and in the California Institution for Men.

It is anticipated that the total population of adult male offenders in Chino between the repurposed Stark facility, the planned Reception Center and CIM will not exceed 9,800 inmates.

CDCR is required to submit an Environmental Impact Report (EIR), which will afford the public and stakeholders an opportunity to review and comment on the planned projects. CDCR anticipates hosting a number of community forums to allow interested community members to participate in the planning process.

Stark opened in 1960 to serve juvenile offenders ages under 18 through 24 in the California Youth Authority, now the Division of Juvenile Justice. At its peak in April 1996, Stark housed 2,042 juvenile offenders. Due to a declining statewide juvenile population, it was announced in August 2009 that the facility would be closed in 2010 and repurposed for adult inmates. The current population is fewer than 400 youths. The peak population at CIM was 6,665 in October 2003.

To reduce overcrowding in California's prisons, Assembly Bill (AB) 900 authorized CDCR to construct up to 16,000 beds at existing prisons and build an additional 16,000 beds in secure reentry facilities, either through the acquisition of land and buildings or through renovation and construction on existing state-owned land. The Three Judge Panel of the U.S. District Court recently directed CDCR to develop a plan to ease overcrowding in the state's prison system. CDCR's building plans are even more urgently needed given the recent rulings by this panel of federal judges.

Additional Related Information:

Coleman Filing (PDF)
CDCR Files Comprehensive Statewide Plan for Medical and Mental Health Beds in Response to Coleman Lawsuit
CDCR Finalizes Plan to Convert Former Juvenile Facility