Despite California’s budget crisis, the state is taking steps to improve its prison and parole system.
Three new facilities are under construction aimed at relieving overcrowding.
The driving forces are AB 900 (2007) and AB 552 (2010). Also impacting prison conditions is a federal court order.
AB 900, the Public Safety and Offender Rehabilitation Services Act of 2007, is a multi-phase, multi-billion-dollar prison construction bill that was passed to add an additional 53,000 prison beds to the overcrowded, budget-busting prison system.
The Sentencing and Justice Reform Advocacy (SJRA) newsletter, “Advocate,” reported in June that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has “made concrete progress in its effort to implement new construction and renovation projects.”
AB 900 authorizes $7.7 billion ($7.3 in bonds and $350 million from the state’s general fund) to fund the state prison and local jail beds to relieve severe overcrowding, improve medical conditions and relieve the threat of federal court intervention.
In June the state’s Public Works Board (PWB) approved proceeding with three infill projects—the California Health Care Facility, the Dewitt Nelson Correctional Facility in Stockton, and the Estrella Correctional Facility in Paso Robles.
Action to date includes:
June 15: CDCR broke ground on a 64-bed intermediate care mental health facility at California Medical Facility in Vacaville. The project will provide new construction, including housing, treatment, support, and administrative services for state inmates at an estimated cost of $33.7 million,
June 16: The California Pooled Money Investment Board approved three loans totaling approximately $63.4 million to fund preliminary plans and partial working drawings for the California Health Care Facility (Stockton), the Dewitt Nelson Correctional Facility (Stockton), and the Estrella Correctional Facility (Paso Robles).
The California Health Care Facility Stockton is the first AB 900 design-build project. The proposed medical center will provide 1,722 beds for minimum-security to maximum-security state inmates with acute and chronic medical and mental health conditions. The estimated cost is $900.4 million. Construction is expected to be completed by Spring 2013.
LEVEL II FACILITY
The Dewitt Nelson Correctional Facility is a $188.3 million project proposed to deliver a 684-bed Level II state prison for adult males. The project will have 1,133 beds and require significant infrastructure improvement, including housing, healthcare services, programming, visitation and support services space.
The Estrella Correctional Facility project will be converted to create a 630-bed state prison for Level II adult males. The redeveloped facility will provide inmate housing, programming, healthcare and support services for an estimated $111.4 million. Construction is scheduled for completion by January 2013.
The California Institution for Women (CIW) project will create a 45-bed acute/intermediate mental health care facility at CIW in Chino, including housing, treatment, support and administrative services at the existing women’s state prison. The project is scheduled for completion by the end of 2011—the second AB 900 project.
CDCR prison healthcare is currently in federal receivership.