Moves will reduce overcrowding and increase rehab space while new reforms are fully implemented.
In an effort to reduce severe overcrowding and increase space for rehabilitation programs, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) today resumed its transfer of inmates to private correctional facilities in other states.
This morning 38 inmates who volunteered for out of state transfers were bused to the Florence Detention Center near Phoenix, Arizona. The Florence Detention Center, operated by the Correctional Corporation of America (CCA), has housed 280 California inmates since last November. In addition to Florence, Arizona, CDCR has housed 76 inmates in the West Tennessee Detention Facility. The total number of California inmates now housed out of state is 394.
“Temporary out of state inmate transfers will provide immediate relief to California’s prison system, while the rest of the Governor’s comprehensive reforms are implemented,” said James Tilton, Secretary for Corrections and Rehabilitation. “Relieving overcrowding will improve the safety of our prisons both for inmates and staff. It will also give us breathing room to restore rehabilitation programs, reduce inmate population that will increase access to medical care, and ultimately protect public safety by reducing recidivism rates.”
The transfer of inmates out of state was begun in response to an Emergency Order issued by Governor Schwarzenegger in October 2006, but was halted in November while the state’s authority to move the inmates was challenged in lawsuits. In February 2007, Governor Schwarzenegger signed AB 900, The Public Safety and Offender Rehabilitation Act of 2007, that clarified the authority of CDCR to temporarily transfer inmates to private facilities in other states.
It is expected that CDCR will process up to 400 inmates per month for transfer out of state over the next two years, and that approximately 8,000 inmates will be transferred by March 2009. Transfers will continue thereafter as needed, as AB 900 authorizes transfers until July 1, 2011.
Inmates transferred to out-of-state facilities undergo a comprehensive medical screening. Only those inmates who meet criteria established by the federal court appointed Receiver overseeing inmate medical care are eligible for transfer.
CDCR’s contract with CCA, headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, is for 4,056 beds and discussions with other private correctional companies are expected. CCA facilities in Tallahatchie, Mississippi and North Fork, Oklahoma are also likely to house California inmates.