The Town Is Built on Prisons. What Happens If One Shuts?

A look at the situation in Susanville, California
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 15, 2022 2:25 PM CST
The Town Is Built on Prisons. What Happens If One Shuts?
A stock photo taken near Susanville, California.   (Getty Images)

The husband of Susanville, California's mayor is a corrections officer. It's a place where plenty of people are married to a corrections officer, or one themselves, or the child of one. Roughly 1 out of every 2 adults in the town are employed by the two prisons there, and they're fighting to keep it that way. In a piece for the New York Times, Tim Arango uses Susanville as an example of what "countless rural communities in America" are facing amidst a push to whittle down America's prison population. They're places "that in the back half of the last century welcomed correctional facilities to replace dying industries," and now they're staring down the looming destruction of those jobs. Or, in Susanville's case, fighting back.

The town is home to two facilities: the maximum security High Desert facility, and the minimal security California Correctional Center. The latter is the one that Gov. Gavin Newsom has decided should close. Arango writes that instead of trying to woo new industries to replace all those jobs on the chopping block, the town decided to fight the move and sued the state, citing the lack of notice they were given and alleging officials made the decision in violation of environmental codes. The case is progressing, and while it does a local judge did grant a temporary injunction that puts the closure plans on ice. Meanwhile, residents are trying to imagine a new future. Arango talks with one family—the husband is a prison guard—who recently tried and failed to sell their Susanville home. (Read the full story.)

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