Judge halts planned closure of Northern California prison

The prison in Susanville is one of two the Newsom administration wants to close as California's incarcerated population falls


By Isabella Bloom
The Sacramento Bee
        
SACRAMENTO — A Lassen County judge this week granted the city of Susanville a temporary restraining order halting the state's work to close a Northern Californian prison that employs about 1,000 people.

Superior Court Judge Mark Nareau found Gov. Gavin Newsom's administration did not comply with requirements cited in the California Penal Code when it announced plans in April to close the California Correctional Center.

The provisions relate to how the governor's office notifies the Legislature and Legislative Analyst's Office of prison closures. The notice must also consider specific criteria, including prioritizing prisons with high operational or infrastructure costs and the cost of rebuilding capital investments in the prison at other prisons.

The California Correctional Center, a minimum-security state prison in rural Susanville, had been scheduled to close in 2022.
The California Correctional Center, a minimum-security state prison in rural Susanville, had been scheduled to close in 2022. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

"It does not appear to the court that the necessary requirements imposed upon the executive branch in facilitating the decision to close the California Correctional Center have been complied with," according to Nareau's ruling.

The prison in Susanville is one of two the Newsom administration wants to close as California's incarcerated population falls. The other, Deuel Vocational Institution in Tracy, is expected to shut next year.

Susanville filed a petition arguing that the closure violated the California Environmental Quality Act and California Penal Code, according to the Lassen County Times. The city is home to a second state prison, High Desert State Prison, that is not marked for closure.

A formal hearing will take place on Aug. 17 at the Lassen County Hall of Justice to discuss the ruling and continuing the injunction.

Corrections department spokeswoman Vicky Waters said the state had not yet been served with the temporary restraining order.

"We are confident we have complied with all legal requirements related to the closure process, and will continue to engage with all stakeholders," she said.
     
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