Tuesday, 2 October 2012
Chowchilla's prison switch allowed to move forward
Chowchilla -- According to a judicial ruling Tuesday, state prison officials can move forward with the conversion of the Valley State Prison for Women to a men’s facility.
“We were hoping for a better decision,” said Chowchilla City Manager Mark Lewis. “But the city did the right thing by the community. And we’ll do the best we can going forward.”
Under a previous ruling, a stay of conversion was granted pending a legal challenge to the project brought by the city of Chowchilla.
However, a judge in Contra Costa Superior Court ruled that the need to ease overcrowding in the California prison system outweighed the city’s immediate concerns.
City officials and local residents have voiced concern about relocating male inmates to the prison since the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation announced the plan late last year.
The city has argued that prison officials have not properly evaluated the impact that families relocating to be near male inmates will have on the area.
Prison officials attempted to reassure the city that the impacts would be no more significant that those associated with female prisoners.
However, after CDCR declined to perform a California Environmental Quality Act review of the project, the city filed legal action.
The hearing date to determine if prison officials must conduct a CEQA review of the project is still scheduled for Dec. 7.
Source: Merced Sun-Star