'Southern Max' Now Receiving Folsom Overflow

Associated Press

Prisoners are starting to be transferred from overcrowded Folsom Prison to a facility dubbed "Southern Max"--the first all-new maximum-security prison the state has built in a century.

Officially named the Southern Maximum Security Complex, the new $90.4-million, 1,000-cell prison was built on two sites adjacent to the minimum-and medium-security California Correctional Institution at Tehachapi. Lt. Jim Gamboa said.

San Quentin, which opened in 1852, and Folsom, which opened in 1880, have been the only other California prisons built of maximum-security prisoners until now.

The first group of 31 inmates arrived from Folsom Tuesday, and 100 more are expected later this week even tough construction hasn't been completed, Gamboa said. Officials plan to send another 125 inmates to Tehachapi two weeks from now.

The prison was designed for 1,000 on man to a ell. But the state Department of Corrections may send up to 1,700 inmates to the facility to alleviate chronic overcrowding elsewhere, Gamboa said.

California's prisons house nearly 49,000 inmates in facilities designed for about 27,000, spokesman Don Rasmussen said.

Southern Max sets new standards for a California Prison. The cells are 80-square-feet each, twice as large as some cells at Folsom.

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