Local News

Friday, Oct 25 2013 05:09 PM

Cal City prison to house state inmates

By CHRISTINE BEDELL, Californian city editor cbedell@bakersfield.com

The state has struck a deal with another Kern County correctional facility to take state inmates and help it comply with a federal order to shrink its prison population.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation will contract with behemoth private prison owner Corrections Corporation of America to house 2,300-plus state inmates in California City, it was announced Friday.

The three-year lease agreement for beds at the California City Correctional Center comes with unlimited two-year renewal options if both sides agree, Corrections Corporation said in a news release.

The Cal City prison will hold Level II -- or low-medium security -- state inmates, said Dana Simas, a CDCR spokeswoman.

The state will staff the facility, Simas said. Any CCA employees hired to work there will undergo eight weeks of training to be state correctional officers and if for some reason they are no longer needed at Cal City in the future, they could transfer to CDCR prisons.

Current CDCR sergeants, lieutenants and captains will simply move to the Cal City prison, Simas said.

The state will lease the facility for $28.5 million a year for the first three years, CCA said. If the contract is extended, the rent will increase annually by the lesser of the consumer price index or 2 percent.

Today, CCA houses at Cal City detainees for the U.S. Marshals Service and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. CCA has been working with the two federal agencies to move their detainees elsewhere, including some to other CCA facilities. All are expected to be removed from the Cal City facility by the end of December.

CCA will make $10 million in tenant improvements at no additional cost to the state; additional ones if needed and agreed to by both sides would be funded by CCA and repaid by the corrections department over time.

The agreement helps the state meet a federal mandate to decrease its prison population. The state has cut that population by 40,000 since implementation of prison realignment in October 2011 to 120,566, according to the CDCR.

CDCR has also contracted with GEO Group to incarcerate state inmates at 700-bed community correctional facilities in McFarland and Adelanto.

"Our ability to react quickly to our partners' needs with innovative solutions that make the best use of taxpayer dollars exemplifies the flexibility that CCA is able to provide the CDCR and other government agencies," Damon Hininger, president and CEO of CCA, said in the news release.

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