Dahles, community leaders seek explanation regarding prison closure decision

State Senator Brian Dahle and Assemblywoman Megan Dahle huddled with a roomful of local community leaders and union representatives in Susanville Thursday, May 6 to discuss the recently announced closure of the California Correctional Center.

Brian Dahle said he and other leaders will meet via Zoom with state officials Monday, May 17 to get an explanation of how and why the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation decided to close the Susanville institution.

“What we’re asking for is, hey, if it’s the right thing to do, then show us why you chose us,” Brian Dahle said. “We haven’t seen that yet. And if there is justification that we should be on the chopping block — we don’t believe that — then so be it. But if it’s not, then we’re going to push back … They haven’t demonstrated any kind of transparency or any kind of documentation that this is the right thing to do, and here’s why. It’s frustrating.”

Egan said during the May 17 meeting, the local group would ask the state to engage in “good government in analyzing which prison should be closed — not just what’s good for Lassen County, but what’s good for the state.”

Brian Dahle said he and other state senators held a Zoom meeting last week with representatives from California Governor Gavin Newsom’s office. Dahle said neither he nor other state senators or local prison union representatives received any advance notice of the decision to close the prison.

“They totally took full responsibility for not being transparent and said they were sorry, and so that’s that,” Brian Dahle said. “They said, ‘we want to work with you.’ So, I would like to meet with Ana Monosano (the governor’s cabinet secretary) and Kathleen Allison (CDCR secretary) on Zoom on May 17. We’re going to have Richard (Egan, Lassen County administrative officer), and Dan (Newton, interim Susanville city administrator) for sure and both of the (union) reps from SEIU and CCPOA … We want to get some information on how they chose, what the criteria made that decision.”

“They’ve acknowledged the secretive process and said they’re sorry, … ” said Egan.

“They didn’t say secretive, they just didn’t tell anybody,” added Brian Dahle.

“ … but even then they’ve acknowledged that as a shortcoming, they haven’t changed their behavior,” Egan continued. “They’re still doing it. We’ve (Lassen County Board of Supervisors) asked for reconsideration. We’ve asked for an explanation, and we have not received a response — not even an acknowledgement of our request.”

“We put in Public Records Act requests a couple of weeks ago, as soon as we found out,” said Megan Dahle.

Megan Dahle said she was concerned about how losing more than 1,000 jobs would trickle down and affect the local economy, including the school districts.

“We’re not going to give up on our community yet,” said Brian Dahle. “We want to negotiate. We’re want to go in there and say, ‘We’re about good governance. We think we do a good job up there (at CCC), and we want you to justify where you’re at.’ It’s really unfortunate how they treat their employees. You think when you go to work for the state, you’ve got a good job, you’ve got a union … not to mention what it’s going to do the community. We believe we can push back. We just learned CCC is one of the three prisons in the state that lives within its budget. Then we also learned a little bit about the employees, and since then they’ve (CDCR) announced their going to release 76,000 inmates … So, they’re obviously going to shut down some prisons. We’ve recognized that for some time, but we’d like to know what the long-term plan is because this kind of planning has not been helpful for our community.”

“They haven’t communicated with their union, their employees, the city, the county — any of us,” said Megan Dahle.

According to the Sacramento Bee, CDCR has announced the closure of two prisons — CCC in Susanville and the Deuel Vocational Institution in Tracy.

According to the Bee, the criteria used included the cost to operate the prison at the new reduced capacity, the impact of the closure on the workforce, the housing needs for all inmate populations, the long-term investments in state-owned and operated correctional facilities, public safety and rehabilitation and the durability of the state’s solution to prison overcrowding.

The Bee reports the state plans to close five state prisons by 2025, and according to a Legislative Analyst’s Office report from 2020, both CCC and the DVI were included as possible closures.