Dismantling California at-risk inmate housing brings hurdles

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Special California prisons intended to protect gang informants, disgraced cops and child molesters have become so violent, gang-riddled and crowded that officials are dismantling what’s become the nation’s largest protective custody program.

The inmates are gradually being housed with other prisoners.

But some inmates and advocacy groups say the alternative is increased danger for the vulnerable inmates.

California created the so-called Sensitive Needs Yards nearly two decades ago.

By 2015, the population ballooned to about a third of the system’s inmates, with all the problems of a mainline prison.

Sex offenders in particular were disproportionately dying in the very units created to protect them.

Now, the department is integrating lower-security protective custody inmates into units that promise expanded privileges and rehabilitation programs.

Categories: California News