Assemblyman says McCarthy has met with AG about reversing decision to close federal prison facility near Taft

Assemblyman Vince Fong said he is "cautiously optimistic" about the future of the Taft Correctional Institution after Congressman Kevin McCarthy met recently with United States Attorney General William Barr.

"He had a very productive meeting with the Attorney General. There are a lot of things happening, a lot of things being discussed. We hope there is a positive outcome," Fong said Wednesday.

The second-term assemblyman was in Taft speaking at a breakfast organized by the Taft District Chamber of Commerce and hosted by the Best Western Inn.

Fong, like everybody else was caught off guard when the federal Bureau of prisons, which is overseen by Barr, announced on Oct. 1 that the prison would be closing on Jan. 31 2020.

McCarthy subsequently asked for, and received, a halt to activities to shut the prison and a meeting to discuss the issue and alternatives to closing it.

The BOP told Management Training Corporation, which operates the facility under a contract, the several buildings had been damaged by soil settlement and the cost to repair it was estimated at $100 million.

Fong said Wednesday that one approach is to seek funding repair the buildings damaged by the soil settlement.

"We are cautiously optimistic with he conversations that are happening but there is still a lot of work to be done," Fong said.