Advocates Call for CHCF To Be Last Prison or Jail Built in CA

For Immediate Release – June 24, 2013

Contact: Emily Harris, Californians United for a Responsible Budget (510-435-1176)Stockton: Advocates will demonstrate at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the $900 million California Health Care Facility prison in Stockton tomorrow to call for an end to prison expansion in the state. The ceremony will take place at the new facility off of highway 99, Tuesday, June 25th at 10:00am.

“While we hope that this new prison hospital improves health care for those locked in California’s inhumane prison system, we call on Sacramento to take immediate steps to make real reductions in the number of people locked up,” said Annie Banks of Californians United for a Responsible Budget. “Over 20 years of litigation has made it clear that the major problem with prison health care is that there are too many people in California prisons.”

The Federal Court has threatened Gov. Jerry Brown with contempt charges if he fails to immediately implement steps to reduce the state’s prison population by 9,600 people before the end of this year.

“If the state had taken common sense steps to parole the elderly, the terminally ill, the medically disabled, would this prison hospital have been built?” asked Mary Sutton of Critical Resistance who will be travel all the way from Los Angeles to protest the opening of CHCF. “The CDCR has been wasting money and wasting lives for decades. It is past time to turn that shop around.”

Gov. Brown has also refused orders from the Court to evacuate prisoners at high risk from Valley Fever from two state prisons. A CDCR study has shown that the incidence of Valley Fever is 600 times greater in Pleasant Valley State Prison than in surrounding Fresno County.

“The Governor has shown that he’s willing to let prisoners at high risk of Valley Fever – mostly African-Americans and the elderly – die rather than take steps to further reduce the prison population,” said Debbie Reyes of the California Prison Moratorium Project. “The fact that CDCR continues putting high-risk populations in San Joaquin Valley prisons shows that CHCF is little more than a $900 fig leaf that fails to cover up the lack of commitment to California’s health.”
The Governor and CDCR are planning another $800 million expansion in the form of “infill beds,” and plan to grow the prison population over the next five years.

“Gov. Brown has shown where his real commitment is: it has nothing to do with the health of prisoners, their families or the communities to which they’ll return. His only commitment when it comes to prisons is to continue the growth of a system that is killing poor Californians of color,” said Sammy Nunez of Fathers & Families of San Joaquin.
Residents of Stockton recently stopped a proposal to build a new jail in San Joaquin and hope this prison will be the last new facility to open in both the county and the state.
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