The Community Correctional Facility in Taft may be able to reopen soon. It closed several months ago when the state pulled its few remaining inmates because of prison realignment.
Taft's mayor, Randy Miller, said they are in negotiations with Los Angeles County and could have enough of their inmates to reopen in next three to four months.
Things are eerily quiet inside the Taft CCF. Beds sit empty, jail uniforms sit folded neatly on shelves, but soon the facility could be back at capacity.
"Theres a possibility, if everything goes right, that we might be able to put prisoners in by July 1," Taft Mayor Randy Miller said.
Taft CCF closed and laid-off its 50 employees in November. The hope then was they would already be reopened by now, but the process of securing county inmates has taken longer than some thought.
"Its one of the main revenue generators for the city of Taft and when the CCF closed in November it shut off that revenue stream, which has impacted our general budget," Miller said.
Counties all over the state are dealing with jail overcrowding brought on by prison realignment. All non-serious, non-violent, non-sexual offenders will now serve their time in county jails instead of state prison, and LA County is rapidly approaching capacity.
"Instead of releasing everybody on the streets they are looking for beds, so they have obviously looked at our facility, Shafter, Delano," Miller said.
The contract for Taft to take 500 of LA's inmates has not been signed yet, but officials are cautiously optimistic it could be done soon.
Its a win-win situation if we can just come to a contract negotiation that pleases everybody," Miller said.
Its been nearly five months since the CCF closed. Thats five months that 50 local people have been out of a job.
"As soon we have a contract then we will immediately start contacting those employees to see if wish to come back to work or not," Miller said.
Mayor Miller said some people have moved on and found other jobs since the facility closed. So CCF will have to hire and train some staff quickly so they can open as soon as possible.
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