As projected, the California Correctional Center is no more. Lassen News asked the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to comment on the status of the prison closure and, with fire season upon us, the status of the fire camps CCC used to administer.
According to a statement by Tessa Outhyse, a California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation public information officer, “The California Correctional Center has been fully deactivated as of June 30, 2023. The deactivated institution will be maintained in a warm shut down mode where essential maintenance functions will still be conducted to allow a quick re-activation in the event the facilities are needed in the future.
“The Conservation (Fire) Camp Program’s primary mission is to support local, state, and federal emergency agencies in their response to fires, floods and other disasters. The program can be an important part of an incarcerated person’s rehabilitation as they learn valuable career skills and are publicly recognized for saving people and their homes. The deactivation of CCC did not affect the conservation camp population. Camp participants are now trained at the Sierra Conservation Center. There are currently 58 CDCR hand crews readily available to respond to emergencies statewide. Each year, firefighters from all over the state, including incarcerated crews, gather at Ishi Conservation Camp in Paynes Creek to be certified as Type I hand crews ahead of fire season. They are tested on communication, shelter deployment, physical fitness, and other fire safety procedures.
“As of July 2023, there are approximately 1,800 incarcerated persons working at conservation camps. Approximately 600 of those are fire line-qualified crew members. In addition to hand crews, camp participants can work as support and maintenance staff such as cooks, laundry workers, landscapers and water treatment plant operators.”
According to the CDCR website, “As outlined in Governor Gavin Newsom’s 2020-21 California Budget, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and California Correctional Health Care Services will close two state prisons. The first prison, the Deuel Vocational Institution, closed Sept. 30, 2021. The second, California Correctional Center, will close in 2023. In December 2022, CDCR announced the planned closure of Chuckawalla Valley State Prison by March 2025.
“Additionally, CDCR also not renew the lease with CoreCivic for California City Correctional Facility, terminating the contract in March 2024 and ending the use of that facility as a state prison.
“The reasons these institutions were selected for closure are not a reflection of their quality of work and care or the management or staff. Staff at the prisons can be assured we will work together to ensure a smooth transition, including placing employees into like positions at other facilities whenever possible. To that end, CDCR and CCHCS have formed a team to coordinate and oversee the process with CalHR, and to ensure ongoing communication and transparency with staff throughout. We will also have a dedicated email for questions. We encourage everyone to participate and reach out.”