A whiskey distillery and data center are among seven repurposing suggestions for the California Correctional Center once shuttered as a group of student researchers proposed. Brown University Students and their Professor, John Eason, spent over 1000 hours over a 15-week course researching and developing a presentation for the Susanville City Council on the impacts of the closure of CCC and Prison Policy.
Thier research “acknowledges the fact that the prison boom represents the tripling of facilities between 1970 and 2000, and the prison bust represents the closing of more prisons than those that have been opened, and the closure of CCC is part of that bust.” The student researchers added, “we recognize the importance of curbing prison demand, rather than just like up and getting rid of prisons, and this must happen and needs to happen in Susanville by centering the needs of communities where prisons are located centering the needs of people who are directly affected.”
Through the student’s research, other suggested facility uses included a movie and sound set, alternate energy or solar facility, and a Fire camp. Professor Eason said these suggestions are just the start of a conversation with the governor’s office. Eason stated, “We understand that the state of California owns the building, but a lot of say so for what needs to happen can come from the community.” Eason says, along with the Mayor, they have visited the governor’s office, suggesting if a plan is put together, it can be brought to the state for consideration.
The research also found Susanville to be unique from other typical prison towns in that the city largely voted red and is home to a vastly different demographic of prison towns, “Susanville is an outlier in racial composition. Typically we would expect to see higher amounts of Latino and black inhabitants than we see in Susanville given the fact that it is a prison.”
The city’s median household income significantly lagged behind the average seen in other prison towns, while the median home value in Susanville also fell well below the $164,500 typically found in such towns.
The student’s research methodology aimed to be as ethical as possible, considering none of the students are from the area. Interviews were conducted with the Mayor, Quincy McCourt, and several local business owners. Professor Eason concluded with the hope that the research would benefit the council and be the start of a working relationship with the city to help navigate the impacts of the closure.