by Photo courtesy of Sen. Steve Padilla

A newly introduced bill aims to establish a commission that would repurpose closed prisons into new ways to support communities throughout California. 

Senator Steve Padilla (D-San Diego), introduced Senate Bill 418 to establish the California Prison Redevelopment Commission to explore creative methods of repurposing closed prisons into ways that will serve communities. The legislation was inspired by a commission formed by New York Gov. Kathy Houchul, led by Darren Walker, the President of the Ford Foundation.

The new legislation would create a panel of 15 members with expertise in economic development alongside state and local representatives focused that will focus on recommendations that turn closed prisons into community assets. The commission would be tasked to develop a plan of action to convert empty prisons, many of which were job centers in their rural communities, into opportunities for communities to thrive.  

“California’s rural communities suffer from chronic underinvestment, and we need to think carefully on how to convert former prisons in those communities into economic assets,” said Sen.Padilla. “Having economic development experts alongside community and state leaders carefully analyze redevelopment options will provide an important road map for replacing prisons with economic opportunity and investment in rural communities.”

The California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development would lead the commission. It would also include representatives from the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the Department of Finance, the Department of General Services, and State Parks as well as economic development experts, and local community representatives. 

The Commission would be required to develop and deliver the report to the Legislature by August 1, 2024.

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