Inmate population reduction eliminates iconic symbol of overcrowding crisis

By Dana Toyama | Information Officer I – photos by Eric Owens

For more than two decades CDCR has had to resort to using non-traditional beds to accommodate the inmates. As of last month, CDCR is no longer double- and triple-bunking inmates in areas not designed for housing, such as gymnasiums and dayrooms.

August 2007 marked the peak of the Department’s use of non-traditional beds at 19,618 in 72 gyms and 125 dayrooms. On February 23, CDCR removed the last such beds and has begun renovation projects.

On March 2, Secretary Cate and local media celebrated this milestone at Deuel Vocational Institution (DVI) in Tracy. At one point, DVI was operating at 238 percent of design capacity with more than a thousand non-traditional beds.

On January 20, 2012, DVI deactivated the institution’s final non-traditional beds by closing Z-Dorm. The non-traditional beds in the Y-Dorm were deactivated November 1, 2011. The Z-Dorm building is being restored to use for its intended purpose — inmate recreation and rehabilitative programming.

“Non-traditional beds became the iconic symbol of California’s prison overcrowding crisis,” CDCR Secretary Matthew Cate said. “Now gyms, once filled with inmates in triple-bunk beds, are open and can be used for their intended purpose. This demonstrates how much progress California has made in improving inmate conditions and employee safety.”

With the decline in former inmates returning to CDCR custody, the mission at DVI has changed. It is transitioning back to a Level III mainline institution with a secondary mission as a reception center. With this change, it is anticipated that DVI will again offer vocational programs to the inmate population. These vocational programs probably will include: vocational welding, plumbing, heating and air conditioning, auto body and office services.

On May 23, 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed an order from a federal three-judge court that California must reduce its inmate population to 137.5 percent of design capacity within two years.

Last year, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. signed Assembly Bills 109 and 117, which address the court’s order, while providing local governments with funding and without early releases of state prison inmates.

Since the implementation of Realignment, the inmate population of California’s 33 adult institutions has declined from about 144,000 to 127,770 on February 22.

For before and after photos of non-traditional beds, contact CDCR’s Office of Communications or visit CDCR’s Flickr page at:

For a list of actions CDCR has taken to reduce its inmate population, visit CDCR’s website at:

For background information about the Three-Judge Court order, visit CDCR’s website at: