BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Local Congressman and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senator Dianne Feinstein and Assemblyman Vince Fong are calling for Taft Prison to stay open.
According to a release, McCarthy and Feinstein sent a letter to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons to express opposition for the continuing removal of inmates from the Taft Correctional Institution during the coronavirus pandemic and to close the facility during repair work.
The letter also seeks answers from the BOP as to why the facility cannot remain operational while repairs are made, along with BOP’s longstanding refusal to address any alleged issues with some of the structures at the TCI.
The letter read in-part:
The BOP’s decision to continue with the mass transfer of inmates, sometimes over 40 inmates to a bus, from the TCI around the country clearly and directly contradicts guidance from federal, state, and local authorities, as well as your own recent directive. These actions are unnecessarily putting inmates and staff at the TCI, the broader community of Taft, and other inmates and staff in the federal prison system at risk of not only contracting COVID-19, but also further spreading this virus...
"We strongly oppose the decision to close the TCI during repairs, especially since the March 2020 report contemplates two other options that would keep the facility operational and maintain jobs for over 300 of my constituents that are ardently supporting and executing the mission of the BOP.
The letter called for the immediate suspension of removing inmates during the coronavirus pandemic and for the prison to remain at 50% inmate capacity while repairs to campus buildings are made.
Fong released his own statement.
“The residents of Taft and the westside deserve to know the answers demanded by Congressman McCarthy and Senator Feinstein surrounding the unnecessary and unsound decision by the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to move inmates from the facility," Fong wrote. "The BOP should immediately stop the transfer of inmates from TCI during the COVID-19 pandemic, and allow repairs to be made to the facility for it to continue to operate.