The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) announced April 30 it plans to transfer all inmates currently housed at the former Heman G. Stark Youth Correctional Facility in Chino prior to beginning planned construction and renovation of the property.
Removing the inmates is needed to obtain project approval needed to proceed with this critical project. Removing inmates also will likely help expedite construction and renovation, which includes improving security of the new facility.
“The Department has reviewed its options carefully, and we feel the Chino sites are well suited for the state to increase our capacity for inmate mental health services and bed space for our adult population,” said CDCR Operations Undersecretary Scott Kernan. “We will ensure that the community is fully involved with this process and kept up to date on the progress of the project.”
At present, the Stark facility serves as a reception center for approximately 700 incoming inmates. The inmates will be removed by late summer before renovation and expansion begins. Once completed, the improved facility will houses both general population inmates with a low to medium security level, and will include outpatient medical and mental health services. It will also serve as a reception center to receive incoming inmates from the region. The total population is planned to be approximately 3,200 inmates.
The project, scheduled to be completed by June 2014, will be funded with lease revenue bonds authorized by Assembly Bill (AB 900).
In November 2009, CDCR submitted the projects planned in Chino as part of a comprehensive statewide plan to be filed on November 6 in response to the Coleman lawsuit. CDCR is required to provide new beds and treatment space for more than 1,400 inmates requiring mental health services enrolled in CDCR’s Enhanced Outpatient Program (EOP), pursuant to an order of the Coleman court. The federal receiver requires that CDCR also provide new beds and treatment space for more than 1,400 inmates requiring medical services in an outpatient setting.
CDCR is required to submit an Environmental Impact Report (EIR), which will afford the public and stakeholders an opportunity to review and comment on the planned projects. CDCR anticipates hosting a number of community forums to allow interested community members to participate in the planning process.
Stark opened in 1960 to serve juvenile offenders ages under 18 through 24 in the California Youth Authority, now the Division of Juvenile Justice. At its peak in April 1996, Stark housed 2,042 juvenile offenders. Due to a declining statewide juvenile population, it was announced in August 2009 that the facility would be closed in 2010 and repurposed for adult inmates. The current population is fewer than 400 youths. The peak population at CIM was 6,665 in October 2003.
To reduce overcrowding in California’s prisons, Assembly Bill (AB) 900 authorized CDCR to construct up to 16,000 beds at existing prisons and build an additional 16,000 beds in secure reentry facilities, either through the acquisition of land and buildings or through renovation and construction on existing state-owned land. The Three Judge Panel of the U.S. District Court recently directed CDCR to develop a plan to ease overcrowding in the state’s prison system. CDCR’s building plans are even more urgently needed given the recent rulings by this panel of federal judges.