ADELANTO, Calif. — Though Californians just passed Proposition 47, which is in part intended to reduce prison crowding, the community of Adelanto, Calif., is embracing more correctional construction. Facing potential bankruptcy, city council members on Nov. 20 tentatively approved construction of two new private prisons. The deal will reportedly introduce new revenue to the city through the creation of 1,000 new temporary and permanent employment opportunities and will add six new deputies to the city’s police force.
If the council elects to move forward with the approvals at its Dec. 10 meeting, the Geo Group, headquartered in Boca Raton, Fla. would construct a 3,264-bed prison and a 1,000-bed facility at separate locations within the city. The facilities are projected to house overflow inmates from crowded Los Angeles County facilities.
The economically depressed community is currently experiencing a roughly $2.6 million budget deficit, according to the Los Angles Times. The correctional projects were approved on the condition that each firm will fund three additional sheriff’s deputies for the city and commit to not releasing inmates directly into the city, according to The Sun. Additionally, those conditions must be put in writing by the council’s upcoming meeting.
Though many have voiced their support for the projects, the move has also been denounced by those who believe the city is not in need of yet another correctional facility. Those opposed believe that city leaders should instead be recruiting retail partners to create new revenue streams.
Opponents are also critical of the perceived rush to push the plan through before the city’s new mayor and two new council members are able to take up their posts. Rich Kerr, the city’s incoming mayor, told the Victorville Daily Press in early November that he would indeed oppose the move.
“It’s a lame-duck council and they should not be allowed to do anything that is going to affect our city until the new council sets,” Kerr told the Daily Press on Nov. 8. “I’m opposed to all prisons and new prisons in Adelanto. The people have spoken and they said they don’t want anymore.”
"I’m not trying to generate a prison city," current Adelanto Mayor Cari Thomas told the Los Angeles Times on Nov. 18. "But this will create thousands of jobs and revenue that we need."