Get ready for a California prison re-boom

State prison officials say Mule Creek State Prison in Ione isn’t as crowded with inmates as it used to be, but still want to add nearly 1,600 beds to the penitentiary.

California’s unconstitutionally overcrowded prison system is making room for nearly 2,400 new tenants.

After a year of shopping around construction bids and hearing from affected communities, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation last week named prisons in Ione and San Diego as the sites where it’ll erect three new housing facilities beginning later this spring.

Mule Creek State Prison in Ione—a small town an hour outside of Sacramento—will see the lion’s share of construction, with two lower-security facilities totaling 1,584 beds eyed on land adjacent to the prison. The rural penitentiary, built across 866 acres in 1987, currently houses 2,865 inmates, most of them in “sensitive needs” units, according to its website.

The Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego will add one 792-bed facility on adjacent land.

In a January 2 release, department Secretary Jeffrey Beard said the new facilities would provide “flexible housing for inmates with disabilities, as well as intermediate medical or mental health treatment needs.”

Yet, while the additional housing units will be compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act regulations, they don’t have to be used for those inmates, said spokesperson Dana Simas. “Obviously, our nondisabled inmates can use that facility as well,” she added.

Five other prisons—including California State Prison, Sacramento, and Folsom State Prison, both in Folsom—were in contention for the construction booms, which are anticipated to cost north of $513 million and scatter 555 new state jobs at the two prisons.

Simas indicated the awarded bids emptied out the kitty of Senate Bill 1022, adopted in 2012 to add beds and programming space at existing institutions.

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