The private company that runs Taft Correctional Institution, a minimum security federal prison, announced the federal government will shut down the prison as of Jan. 31, 2020.

The prison has 342 employees and can hold 2,500 male inmates.

"Management & Training Corporation was shocked to receive the news as this decision will have a devastating impact on hundreds of families, the local economy and the community," Issa Arnita, MTC director of corporate communications, wrote in a news release Tuesday. MTC operates the facility for the federal Bureau of Prisons. 

Taft Mayor Dave Noerr described it as "a nightmare" for the 60 to 70 employees of the facility who live in Taft and a financial hit for the city of 10,000 that sits in southwestern Kern County and is mostly known as an oil town. Noerr said he had previous plans to see Congressman Kevin McCarthy Tuesday night and that he would bring up the issue with him.

Assemblyman Vince Fong, R-Bakersfield, who represents Taft at the state level, said he, too, wants to know more about the closure.

“I am working with our federal counterparts to get all the information behind this decision. This is an important facility to Taft and west Kern County,” Fong said in a statement.

MTC said in its news release the Bureau of Prisons determined $100 million was needed in upgrades to the facility, which forced the closure. However, MTC feels alternatives to closing the facility are available and wants the federal government to reverse its decision. 

Noerr said news of the closure came as a complete surprise and avoiding closure is an idea worth exploring.

"Would I advocate to explore alternatives in order to save those jobs? Absolutely," he said.

MTC estimates the prison contributes $4.6 million to the local economy.

Citing the prison as an economic driver for the region, state Sen. Shannon Grove, R-Bakersfield, whose district covers Taft, said in a statement, "...our region will need to come together to offer solutions that will minimize the impact of the facility’s closure on the community."

(8) comments

jayinbaker

It's a shame to close Taft. We need to build more prisons to lock up all the homeless and people who don't agree with us. Think of all the employment it would create and the revenues to the local municipalities. Build more prisons and create more jobs is the way to go.

thatryguy

"MTC was shocked to receive the news as this decision will have a devastating impact on hundreds of families." Go to he**! A devastating impact on hundreds of families!?! How about the hundreds of families of the inmates who MTC mistreats and keeps locked up longer than they should be so they can turn a profit! I'm all for keeping every Federal prison that exists open for business, but NOT under corporate/private control. This is great news, and hopefully, a first step toward the bankruptcy of MTC. Shame on every single one of them.

REMUDA

Good News . . . ! Now we have an opportunity to recycle it to house our needy homeless, low-threat detainees and border-crossers . . . ! Of course . . . it's not "low barrier" but has all the right 'shelter' potentials . . . already in-place staffing, private rooms, beds, sanitation, air-conditioning/heating, cookery & logistics, community relations, educational facilities . . . & all right out here in the historic wide-open spaces of Lakeview Gusher . . . !

Gary Crabtree

I agree 100%. As a bonus, we can use the Mesa Verde facility that's also going to close.

Conscience of Bakersfield

Yeah, because a shelter in Taft is a place the homeless will voluntarily go to.

Bodysnatcher

Who said it would be voluntary?

R1313

The perception of Violating rights of the homeless is a slippery slope in this litigious society.

The ACLU will be setting up shop in town draining public funds and tax dollars.

Also if the Prison requires millions and millions of dollars of upgrades to house minimum security federal prisoners, it's going to require much the same to turn it into an ICE detention center.

Moardeeb

Yeah let's just simmer down.

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