California financially strapped corrections department will not allow inmates to leave their cells at three prisons, in an attempt to reduce overtime pay for guards, and is considering other cost-savings in most of its 32 institutions, says the head of the state Senate committee that oversees prisons.
The Los Angeles Times says that most inmates at the Salinas Valley State Prison in Soledad and the Substance Abuse Treatment Facility in Corcoran were forced to remain in their cells 24 hours a day on “fiscally driven lockdowns,” said Sen. Gloria Romero (D-Los Angeles), who chairs the Senate’s Select Committee on the California Correctional System.
Russ Heimerich of the corrections department said the restrictions at Salinas Valley were not fiscally driven but the result of security concerns. He did confirm that other prisons are considering temporary restrictions on inmates. The moves are attempts to keep the department, which is $70 million over budget, from running out of money by the end of the fiscal year, which ends June 30.
The restrictions in Lancaster have angered some inmates’ families and brought criticism from the American Civil Liberties Union, which argues that the 24-hour lock-ins are unconstitutional.