With a hasty legislative vote and the stroke of a pen, the state changes the laws and rules, guts the city’s lawsuit and sets a new date for CCC’s closure
Some insiders bitterly characterize the latest developments in the battle to save the California Correctional Center as the worst and most disgusting sort of state-sponsored corruption imanagible.
According to those insiders, when the state faced the real possibility of losing the city of Susanville’s lawsuit regarding CCC because it failed to follow the law it created to regulate such closures, it simply changed the law and the rules and probably made the city’s court case moot.
According to a statement from the city, “The city of Susanville’s yearlong battle to protect the city of Susanville by preventing the politically motivated closure of California Correctional Center was delivered a blow yesterday. In a last-minute trailer bill to the governor’s budget, the Penal Code was modified to allow the arbitrary closure of the California Correctional Center by June 30, 2023, to take away any right of citizens to have any voice in the selection of a prison for closure and eliminate any environmental review prior to closing any prisons or juvenile facilities.
Dan Newton, city administrator, said, “When the state got caught not following the laws, it decided to just change the law instead of doing what was right. Anyone who understands what the state has done should be in awe of the state’s blatant disregard for what is fair and just.”
What’s that you say?
Here’s what happened. California Governor Gavin Newsom signed the state’s $308 billion budget yesterday, Thursday, June 30, including AB 200 — dubbed the Public Safety Omnibus.
Brian Dahle, our District 1 state senator and his wife, Megan Dahle, our District 1 assemblywoman, voted no on the bill that repeals and rewrites California Penal Code section 5003.7 regarding prison closures. The bill also specifically addresses the closure of the California Correctional Center in Susanville.
The repealed penal code section establishes the previous criteria for the closure of the state’s prisons. The repealed code reads: “On or before Jan. 20, 2021, the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation shall notify the budget committees of each house and the Legislative Analyst’s Office of the specific state owned and operated prison for closure. On or before Jan. 10, 2022, the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation shall notify the budget committees of each house and the Legislative Analyst’s Office of a second 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.”
The revised penal code section 5003.7 eliminates the consideration of that criteria and simply reads, “The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation shall remove all incarcerated persons from, cease operations of, and close the California Correctional Center located in the town of Susanville, California, no later than June 30, 2023.”
When Lassen News asked CDCR for comment, Dana Simas, the press secretary for CDCR responded, “The department’s closure activities for CCC continue to be on hold at this time due to ongoing litigation. We will notify our staff, incarcerated population and stakeholders of any updates or changes.”
“The city’s whole focus has been on protecting our citizens, valuable jobs and this amazing community.” Said Susanville’s Mayor, Quincy McCourt. “When the system we rely on has too many angles and creates loopholes to justify and defend its behavior, the law loses its point. Locally a main priority is looking out for those who have made Lassen County their home and of those who wish to remain. We will maintain focus and explore all options.”According to the city’s statement, “The city will be meeting with the city attorney and staff to discuss the best mechanism to move forward.
The city of Susanville was represented by City Attorney Margaret Long.
For more information or media inquiries, contact attorney Margaret Long at [email protected] or the city administrator.