Inmates start leaving this week before federal prison closes April 30

Local leaders are calling the Federal Bureau of Prisons' decision to close the Taft Correctional Institution wrong and even reckless.

Management Training Corporation, the firm that operates the low-security facility southeast of Taft under a contract with the BOP.

The BOP announced it will be closing the prison by April 30 and start transferring inmates this week.

"We are in the middle of a devastating and dangerous health crisis—one that has hit California especially hard,” Taft Mayor Dave Noerr Dave Noerr said in a statement released Thursday afternoon. “The idea of closing a prison at this time and moving more than 1,100 inmates to other facilities throughout the country just doesn’t make sense. In fact, it’s reckless and unnecessarily puts people at risk.” 

Noerr said inmates are scheduled to leave the facility starting Friday and flown to other federal facilities.

“Now is not the time to move more than a thousand inmates and endanger them and staff," Noerr said. "The inmates are safer inside the facility where they have no cases of the coronavirus and where they thoroughly screen all staff and visitors prior to entry—even taking their temperature.”

He called on the BOP to delay the closing by at least three months.

Congressman Kevin McCarthy issued a statement Tuesday afternoon.
“This decision by the Bureau of Prisons to close the facility for repairs and begin transferring inmates this week is the wrong decision and contrary to recent congressional directive, especially at this time when our community and country continue to work tirelessly and take extraordinary measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus, McCarthy said. "I continue to believe that any necessary repairs can be made while the facility remains operational, and will continue to press that with the Bureau and with the Attorney General.”

The prison employees about 320 people, about one-third of the Taft residents.

It has more than 2,000 deportable aliens and also has a satellite camp with minimum-security inmates.