Prison Law Blog

Sara Mayeux

California Closes Chino Juvenile Facility; Will Be Rehabbed into Adult Prison

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On Monday, California officially shut the doors to the Herman G. Stark Youth Correctional Facility in Chino. The facility will be renovated into a 3,000-bed addition to the California Institution for Men, Chino’s adult prison. This plan was announced after the Chino adult prison erupted in riots last August, causing the loss of 1,400 beds from Chino’s already overpacked facility. Stark’s 700 employees will retire or transfer to other CDCR jobs, and its 100 remaining wards have been transferred to other facilities. The San Bernardino County Sun reports:

Danny Leng, 20, has spent the past two years working at a retail shelf manufacturing facility at Stark that opened in 2008.

“Being here offers so much opportunity to send money home,” Leng said. “I have a 3-year-old that I send money to and I have to pay back victim’s restitution. It’s disappointing because this program offers a lot. There’s no telling what programs will be available where I go next.”

When it opened in 1960, the Youth Correctional Facility, as it was then known, offered a full slate of vocational courses, including welding, auto mechanics, upholstery, construction, and carpentry. At its peak in 1996, the Stark facility was packed with 2,000 wards — 800 more than it was designed to hold, and a fifth of the California juvenile system’s then-total population of 10,000. California has since radically downsized its juvenile incarcerated population, which is currently about 1,500, through a combination of legislation (SB 81 and AB 191) that provides incentives to keep all but the most violent juvenile offenders in county facilities. Stark is the eighth juvenile facility to close since 2003 as a result of the state’s shrinking custodial population.

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