By Bill Sessa, CDCR Public Information Officer
Photos by Eric Owens, CDCR Staff Photographer
Office of Public and Employee Communications
In front of a crowd of 150 CDCR staff, contractors and city and county elected officials, Warden Joe Lizarraga recently accepted a ceremonial set of keys to officially dedicate two new housing units at Mule Creek State Prison, capping a two-year construction project.
The units, known as Facility D and E, will ultimately house up to 1,584 medium security inmates dormitory-style in a 60-acre self-contained facility that includes 94,000 square feet of space for rehabilitation programming, medical and mental health care and family visiting.
“The activation of these beds is key to remaining below the population cap imposed by the federal courts and avoiding a court-ordered release of inmates,” said CDCR Secretary Scott Kernan. “The medical, mental and rehabilitative space in the new facilities helps give our inmates a constitutional level of care.”
Undersecretary of Operations Ralph Diaz emphasized that point by drawing a contrast between the earliest days of CDCR and its newest facility.
“I was thinking back to the 1850s, when we simply took people off of a ship and put them in a facility for a time,” he said, referring to the opening of the state’s first prison, San Quentin. “This facility was designed with a different end in mind. Because of the treatment space, inmates will go back to their community better than when they came here and that, to me, is the essence of public safety.”
The new facilities, he said, “will set an international standard and emphasize our quest to reduce recidivism.”
In his presentation, Warden Lizarraga listed dozens of rehabilitative programs that will be available to inmates, from vocational training in construction trades and custodial work to academic classes, including college courses and computer training.
The facility also offers many core cognitive classes that help inmates change their thinking patterns, curb impulsive and angry behavior and become more sensitive to the effect of their behavior on crime victims and others in the community.
Among the newest programs cited by Warden Lizarraga is a 12-step program that helps inmates “acknowledge their addiction to gang life and to learn how to walk away from it.”
The two new facilities will add 377 jobs in the community, continuing a long-standing relationship with CDCR.
“Those jobs are important,” noted Amador County Supervisor John Plasse. “We are a small community and we appreciate CDCR’s willingness to work with us.”
During construction, an estimated $6.8 million was spent directly with local businesses – from restaurants and hardware stores to hotels – to meet every-day needs of workers. In addition, the construction produced $80,000 in donations for three dozen community groups, from emergency shelters and youth sports to crime victim support and school groups.
The two facilities are designed to meet Silver-level LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. Environmentally-friendly features include low-flow water fixtures, highly efficient lighting and low-emission content construction materials.