MTC and other want to change Bureau of Prisons' mind about closing federal prison in early 2020
Management Training Corp. is going to fight to keep the Taft Correctional Institution open and its not alone.
State and local officials are also joining the effort to keep the prison open.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons notified MTC Tuesday morning that the contract to operate the facility on Cadet Road would not be renewed and the facility would close on Jan. 31, 2020.
TCI Associate Warden Georgia Puentes said Wednesday meeting were planned for the afternoon with both state and federal elected officials to find alternatives to closing the facility, which houses up to 2,500 criminal aliens in a low-security facility and minimum security inmates in a satellite camp.
"We are trying to halt or change that decision," Puentes said at the Taft Chamber of Commerce Wednesday morning. "We know how it‘s going to impact our 340 employees, the majority of those who live in Taft."
The BOP's decision to close the prison down was prompted by soil settlement problems in the main low security prison that are affecting two large buildings, one used for recreation and the other for education.
MTC said the Bureau of Prisons estimated it will cost $100 million to fix the settlement problems.
Puentes said the camp has relocated programs from the two affected structures and is still functioning normally.
She said she's hoping to enlist help from elected officials to change the BOP's decision, but said "right now it's in the Bureau's hands.”
”We are working real close with (Congressman) Kevin McCarthy's staff and (State Assemblyman) Vince Fong. we are meeting this afternoon with McCarthy," Puentes said.
Fong said yesterday he was getting involved in the issue.
"I am working with our federal counterparts to get all the information behind this decision. This is an important facility to Taft and west Kern County,” he told the Taft Midway Driller.
State Senator Shannon Grove also wants to find an alternative to closing TCI.
"Taft Correctional Institution is an economic driver for our region that creates more than 340 jobs for those who call California’s 16th Senate District home. As more information is released on this situation, our region will need to come together to offer solutions that will minimize the impact of the facility’s closure on the community,” she said.
Taft Mayor Dave Noerr said he will be involved in efforts to keep the facility open.
"There is going to have to be a lot of work to be done, to look at other options to closing it," he said at Tuesday night's Taft City Council meeting. "It's early in the program. Maybe we can come up with a different plan of attack and the outcome can be changed.”