Nareau grants temporary restraining order to stop closure of CCC

Lassen County Superior Court Judge Mark Nareau issued a temporary restraining order Monday, Aug. 2 stopping the state’s efforts to close the California Correctional Center in Susanville pending a 3 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 17 hearing and a possible subsequent order by the court.

The respondents in the case include the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, California Governor Gavin Newsom and Secretary of CDCR Kathleen Allison.

Upon review of the petition filed by the city of Susanville, Nareau found merit in city’s allegations that the state violated the California Environmental Quality Act and the California Penal Code in making its decision to close CCC.

Interim City Administrator Dan Newton said, “This is a great first step, and we hope it will encourage the governor to come to the table to discuss this issue with the city of Susanville.”

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A formal hearing on continuing the injunction is scheduled for 3 p.m. Aug. 17, 2021 in Department 1 of the Lassen County Hall of Justice on Riverside Drive, in Susanville. The hearing is open to the public.

According to Nareau’s ruling, “The language contained within Penal Code section 5003.7 is mandatory in nature and in part is intended to provide notice to the budget committees of each house and the Legislative Analyst’s Office of a specific state-owned and operated prison for closure. In identifying prisons for closure, the department shall consider the following criteria: (a) The department shall prioritize closure of prisons with relatively high operational costs or costly infrastructure needs compared to inmate capacity, flexible housing assignment capacity, and long-term operational value. (b) The department shall consider the cost of rebuilding the capital investments that have already been made in the prison at other prisons, to the extent that those capital investments would need to be rebuilt at other prisons should the prison in question be closed.”

According to Nareau’s order, “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. The executive branch of the government of the state of California, like the citizens it serves, must comply with the law.

“It appears to the satisfaction of this Court that this is a proper case for granting a temporary restraining order, and setting an order to show cause for a preliminary injunction, and that, unless the temporary restraining order prayed for is granted, great or irreparable injury will result to Petitioner before the matter could otherwise be heard on notice.”

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Despite the city’s allegation that the state did not meet the Penal Code requirements imposed upon the Legislative Analyst’s Office that Nareau found are “mandatory in nature,” the Sacramento Bee reported the LAO announced the possible closure of CCC in 2020.

According to a story posted on Lassen News in May, “CDCR has announced the closure of two prisons — CCC in Susanville and the Deuel Vocational Institution in Tracy.

“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.”

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Nareau’s order

Here is Nareau’s Order Re Petitioner’s application for restraining order and order to show cause regarding temporary restraining order.

The Court having received, read and considered the Application for Temporary Restraining Order and Order to Show Cause Regarding Preliminary Injunction of Petitioner on file herein does herein find: The Petitioner, City of Susanville alleges that the actions of the

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation as part of its function as a body of the executive branch of the State of California violated the California Environmental Quality Act, (C.E.Q.A.) and California Penal Code Sections 5003.7 and 2067 in the process of determining that the California Correctional Center shall be closed on or before June 30,2022. Petitioners allege that the

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Secretary of the Department Kathleen Allison and Governor Gavin Newsom have ordered the closure of the California Correctional Center in violation of CEQA and Penal code sections 2067 and 5003.7. Petitioners further allege that the discretionary actions of the executive branch come within the confines of CEQA thus triggering a mandatory review as per Public Resources Code section 21000 et seq.

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Petitioners assert that the Respondents have acted in violation of Penal Code Sections 2067 and 5003.7 in that prior to announcing the closure of the California Correctional Center the executive branch did not comply with Penal Code section 5003.7 or section 2067 and the mandatory language contained therein.

The language contained within Penal Code section 5003.7 is mandatory in nature and in part is intended to provide notice to the budget committees of each house and the Legislative Analyst’s Office of a specific state-owned and operated prison for closure. In identifying prisons for closure, the department shall consider the following criteria:

(a) The department shall prioritize closure of prisons with relatively high operational costs or costly infrastructure needs compared to inmate capacity, flexible housing assignment capacity, and long-term operational value. (b) The department shall consider the cost of rebuilding the capital investments that have already been made in the prison at other prisons, to the extent that those capital investments would need to be rebuilt at other prisons should the prison in question be closed.

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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. The executive branch of the government of the state of California, like the citizens it serves, must comply with the law.

It appears to the satisfaction of this Court that this is a proper case for granting a temporary restraining order, and setting an order to show cause for a preliminary injunction, and that, unless the temporary restraining order prayed for is granted, great or irreparable injury will result to Petitioner before the matter could otherwise be heard on notice.

The court has weighed the likelihood of Plaintiff’s success on the merits as well as the interim harm the Plaintiff will suffer absent the granting of a Temporary Restraining Order and makes the following order:

It is ordered that the above-named defendants appear in Department 1 of this court, located at 2610 Riverside Drive Susanville, California on Aug. 17, 2021 at 3 p.m. or as soon thereafter as the matter may be heard, then defendants, should not be enjoined and restrained during the pendency of this all of the following acts: Undertaking any further effort to close the California Correctional Center.

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It is further ordered that: Respondents and each of them are hereby enjoined and restrained from performing any acts to further the closure of California Correctional Center pending hearing and further order of this court.

  1. Petitioner shall serve this Order to Show Cause on Respondents in the following time and manner: service no later than Aug. 7, 2021.
  2. Proof of service must be delivered to the Court hearing the OSC on: Aug. 12, 2021.
  3. The parties shall adhere to the following briefing schedule:

Respondents’ opposition shall be due on Aug. 13, 2021

Petitioners’ reply shall be due on Aug. 16, 2021

  1. The temporary restraining order shall expire on Aug.17, 2021 at 5 p.m. unless extended by the court.