CMC's inmates, budget cut after prison realignment, grand jury finds

An aerial view of California Men's Colony near San Luis Obispo.
An aerial view of California Men's Colony near San Luis Obispo. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

The California Men’s Colony’s inmate population has been reduced by 1,000 inmates in the last year by California’s realignment law, according to a San Luis Obispo County civil grand jury report issued Thursday.

The report also highlights the ongoing problem with contraband such as cigarettes, drugs and cell phones being smuggled into the prison.

“Although CMC staff strives to control the flow of contraband, they are hampered by the lack of adequate security equipment in the East Side visiting room and limited availability of sniffer dogs to use when conducting contraband searches within the facility,” according to the report.

However, the report found that CMC will be installing new technology that will block cell phone transmissions, thereby eliminating a significant and dangerous form of contraband within CMC.

As a result of the inmate reduction, 193 custodial staff positions have been cut, 22 from support staff and 237 from the Health Care Program. CMC’s annual operating budget was also reduced by $21 million in 2012-13.

“Despite significant reductions in funding and staff, CMC continues to exemplify California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's goal to provide rehabilitation opportunities for inmates,” according to the grand jury report. “CMC offers extensive academic, vocational and work programs as well as an impressive slate of social, psychological and cultural rehabilitation programs.”