California spending billions to build new prisons

Marisa Lagos, Chronicle Staff Writer – Sunday, August 14, 2011 At a dusty construction site in Vacaville adjacent to a prison yard, workers are putting the finishing touches on a 45,000-square-foot structure that will soon house dozens of California’s most severely mentally ill offenders. When the $33.6 million project at the California Medical Facility is completed this fall, prison psychologists and psychiatrists will have private offices to treat their patients, and inmates requiring inpatient care will have individual cells near a nurse’s station, as required by law. The building, which will include 64 cells, is one of 13 prison construction projects being funded by a $7.4 billion bond approved by the Legislature in 2007. It is all part of an effort by the state to comply with a court order to reduce overcrowding and improve health care in its prisons. Even as the construction continues, however – and as the state continues to face pressure to reduce its prison population – there is debate over whether Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown should move forward with the projects. Thirteen other states have seen their inmate populations drop and are working to close prisons – including Texas, which began shutting down a century-old lockup last week. Some people think California should follow suit. [Full Story at: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/08/14/MNHN1KJ12V.DTL&ao=all ]

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California spending billions to build new prisons

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