SACRAMENTO, CA, April 20, 2021––In response to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) failure to provide the state with a comprehensive plan to close prisons, Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB) released The People’s Plan for Prison Closure today, a 49-page document that calls for the closure of at least ten more state prisons in the interest of public health.
The deactivation of CCC is part of the Newsom Administration’s plan to close two state-owned prisons in California. The first prison announced to be closed was Deuel Vocational Institution in Tracy, which is scheduled for deactivation by September 30, 2021. On April 13th, CDCR announced the planned deactivation of California Correctional Center (CCC) in Susanville by June 30th, 2022.
While CURB applauded both prison closure announcements, organizers joined legislators like Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-19) in calling CDCR’s shutdown process “arbitrary and confusing.” CURB member organizations say that CDCR is impeding California’s progress on closing prisons, and that directly impacted people have been insufficiently consulted about which prisons to close and why––or how best to do so.
The state’s Legislative Analyst’s Office produced a report in November of 2020 that outlined at least $1.5 Billion annually in savings if California committed to closing five prisons by 2025. Advocates say closing five prisons is just the tip of the iceberg.
The People’s Plan for Prison Closure provides detailed recommendations on: ten prisons directly impacted people prioritized for closure and supporting evidence as to why; an analysis of cost-savings to be captured and reinvested in adjacent communities; and data-driven information about the roles racism and draconian sentencing continue to play in California state-owned prison expansion and overcrowding.
Read quotes from authors of The People’s Plan for Prison Closure:
“CDCR’s current prison closure discussion is missing the voices of people with the most at stake and who are best positioned to lead these decisions: currently incarcerated people. That’s why we need The People’s Plan for Prison Closure. Without their involvement, the state will fail to consider vital criteria––like the distance that people are caged from their loved ones and the deplorable conditions they are caged in––and decisions around prison closure will be driven by the self-serving interests of CDCR, a department that has a vested interest in expanding their reach and keeping people incarcerated––not closing prisons.”
––Amber-Rose Howard, Executive Director, CURB“The People’s Plan for Prison Closure articulates a pathway to prison closure that centers the voices of impacted people. There are many strategies for closing prisons that must be explored, including creating a roadmap to close all women’s prisons across California, and freeing folks––including transgender and gender non-conforming people––from those facilities.
Thousands of workers rely on an income generated from prisons. This is not healthy. California needs to support local economies through deep investments in towns near prisons, as well as help people transition to new careers that build positive communities. Creating good, healthy jobs is an essential component of CURB’s prison closure strategy.”
––Brian Kaneda, Deputy Director, CURB
“For the People’s Plan for Prison Closure, Essie Justice Group’s members who are women with incarcerated loved ones developed a survey to gain input and insight from systems-impacted people to inform which prisons to close. The survey was distributed to currently incarcerated loved ones and family members. Nearly 2,000 surveys were filled out and returned, representing every state prison in California.”
––Felicia Gomez, Senior Policy Associate, Essie Justice Group (CURB Member)
“Accomplishing our goal of closing ten prisons in five years will be hard. It will require political courage. But history is watching us, and waiting for California to finally address what are the most significant moral and ethical issues of our time. This report is a vital part of the conversation.”
––Elizabeth Fraser, SURJ Bay Area(CURB Member)
“Prisons prioritized for closure must be emptied and all functions of the prison must cease. In fact, due to the widespread environmental injustices that make California prisons unsafe for human life, and the danger to public health that is exacerbated during a global pandemic, prisons must be completely torn down. The People’s Plan for Prison Closure illustrates the harm deadly prisons pose to all Californians.”
––Liz Blum, Decarcerate Sacramento (CURB Member)
Established in 2003, Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB) is a statewide coalition of over 80 grassroots organizations working to: 1) reduce the number of people imprisoned, 2) reduce the number of prisons and jails, and 3) shift state and local spending from corrections and policing to human services, bridging movements for environmental, racial, and economic justice. www.curbprisonspending.org