Close california prisons

The Close California Prisons campaign, a growing coalition of racial and economic justice organizations anchored by CURB, is working to close 10 prisons in California by 2025.

Prison closure is imperative for our state. California’s prisons have a devastating impact on communities of color, rural communities, and working class communities.  As the state takes on climate change and economic revitalization, there is a real opportunity to shut down toxic prisons and invest in dignified workforce development. 

The #CloseCAPrisons campaign is built on decades of work.  It’s well past time to shrink the imprisoned population size, stop jail and prison expansion, and roll back “tough on crime” sentencing. There is increased political will on a state level, with the reality of lowered numbers of imprisoned people and a growing racial justice movement demanding less reliance on policing and imprisonment. 

Why We Care About Closing Prisons

"Drastically reducing the number of prisons in the state, as well the number of people in them, is the single greatest investment we can make in public health protection, racial justice equity, and the economic sustainability we all want for California’s future."

Closing California prisons is racial justice:
Black people are 6.5% of California’s population but make up 28% of the people in prisons. Black people – as well as Latinx and Indigenous communities – face continuous generational damage to their families because of California’s racist system of imprisonment. The best way for California to confront racism is by freeing more incarcerated people, closing prisons, and investing in Black and marginalized communities.
Closing California prisons is good for the environment:
Prisons are often sites of toxic air, land and water. Climate change - including worsening California wildfires - has made the call to close prisons more urgent than ever. We must transition to a sustainable future by uniting labor and community interests with what's good for the planet. Policy change can move us away from extractive economies like fossil fuels and prisons and toward sustainable, green jobs with integrity.
Closing California prisons is good for jobs:
It is true that thousands of people rely on income from working at prisons in California. That's why we need labor solutions that transition economies away from jobs that harm and toward a sustainable future. Multibillion dollar economies structured around a system that criminalizes, cages and harms people are NOT sustainable.
Closing California prisons is good for the economy:
The U.S. spends $300 billion on the prison industrial complex annually. CDCR’s budget has grown by more than $5 billion over the last 12 years, to about $18.6 billion in 2022-23. Imagine what we could do if we invested this money into communities in need and towns where prisons get shut down.
Closing California prisons is good for public health:
The COVID pandemic proves that prisons are deadly petri dishes for infection. Experts say prisons themselves present a public health crisis. Did you know that ending mass incarceration would increase the overall U.S. life expectancy by about two years?
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CURB's Prison Closure Roadmap

In February 2023, CURB’s #CloseCAPrisons campaign released a Prison Closure Roadmap. This roadmap offers a decarceral just transition framework, whereby California can support any city or town with a prison in shifting the local economy and community away from a perceived reliance on incarceration, and toward healthy and life-affirming investments in services, infrastructure, and high road jobs. The roadmap offers ten state-owned prisons as priorities to be named for closure by 2025 based on input from 2,386 systems-impacted people representing every prison in the state. 

In light of recent closure announcements, cost-savings from prison closure, ongoing projected declines in the incarcerated population, findings from the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO), continued harm caused by prisons reported by those inside, this roadmap comes at an opportune and critical juncture.


The roadmap focuses on these four key areas: 

  • Prison Population Reduction and Facility Closure Strategies
  • Selecting Prisons for Closure
  • Decarceral Just Transition: Support for Impacted Communities
  • Prison Repurposing

The People's Plan for Prison Closure

The People's Plan for Prison Closure

In April 2021, the CURB coalition released The People’s Plan for Prison Closure, a visionary report that outlines the failures of California’s bloated carceral system, and offers bold, community-centered solutions for our jail problem.

Within the report, you’ll find information such as:

  • More about the CURB coalition and our mission
  • A bold plan to close the ten worst California prisons by 2025
  • A brief history of how California became the largest jailer and jail system in the world
  • The environmental, economical, and human costs of mass incarceration and of jail facilities, themselves
  • The fiscal irresponsibility of maintaining the status quo
  • A plan for reinvesting carceral dollars to bolster our economy and create jobs for community members and former CA Department of Corrections employees
  • A wide range of research and supporting materials that will provide useful context for anyone who wants to better understand why the abolition of California prisons and jails is essential to our community well-being as California moves into a healthier, happier future with equitable outcomes and opportunity for all to thrive

More Resources

It is imperative that California divest from one of the most costly areas of the state budget –– criminalization and incarceration –– and invest in cost and life-saving solutions to the unprecedented challenges we face as a state and country in the coming years.
Prisons are disastrous for California. Learn more in our memo to the Legislature.

CURB’s list of priority prisons to close, based on surveys from 2,000 systems-impacted people.

Read articles in the news about prison closure and the #CloseCAPrisons campaign.