In May 2022, incarcerated people in California Correctional Center (CCC) filed a “friend of the court” (or amicus brief) in the case brought by Susanville against the state of California, attempting to stop California Correctional Center (CCC) prison from closing. The intent of the filing was to have the incarcerated residents of Susanville (who at one point comprised 30% of the city’s population) be legally acknowledged as stakeholders in the proceeding.
Court officials in Susanville responded to the legal brief by demanding over $1300 in court fees for the filing. The very next day, once the payment cleared, the court rejected the brief.
Susanville wants to keep CCC open so that they can continue to profit from it. As the amicus brief makes clear, if the lawsuit were to be successful, it might be the first time since the enactment of the 13th Amendment in the 1865 that an American court has vindicated a demand for financial reliance on human bondage.
Rejecting the amicus brief is an affront to the humanity of the incarcerated community and an attempt to silence their voices. Stalling CCC’s closure has already exacerbated the inhumane and deplorable conditions for those caged inside. You can read an op-ed by two of the petitioners, Duane Palm and Timothy Peoples, about this vital issue here: bit.ly/DuaneTimOpEd.
The Newsom Administration made changes to the 2022-23 budget that are designed to limit obstructions to more prisons closing, and help ensure CCC closes by June 2023. But, elected officials in California have to do better–they allowed CDCr to cause chaos on all sides by failing to create and enact a concrete, transparent plan to close prisons expediently across California. All this while Susanville continues to resist the closure in court with arguments that ultimately reaffirm human bondage as an economic model.
Ultimately, in the battle between Susanville and the state, incarcerated people are paying the price.