The Times podcast: The end of a small town’s prison economy

A prison is illuminated at night
The California Correctional Center, a minimum-security state prison, in Susanville.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Landing a job at one of the prisons in the northeastern California town of Susanville has been a sure way to get a middle-class life for decades. Now, one of the prisons, the California Correctional Center, is scheduled to close. And this charming town of just over 13,500 residents, roughly 40 percent of whom are incarcerated, must confront a truism of small-town American life: when you rely on one industry for your economy, you’re eventually going to get left with the bill.

Today, we get the story of Susanville from L.A. Times reporter Hailey Branson-Potts, residents and an advocate for prison closure who says there is a future after a lockup gets closed up.


Host: Gustavo Arellano

Guests: L.A. Times reporter Hailey Branson-Potts, Lassen County administrative officer Richard Egan, Susanville resident Misty Arteaga, and The Sentencing Project director of advocacy Nicole D. Porter

More reading:

California’s prison boom saved this town. Now, plans to close a lockup are sparking anger and fear

A rural Northern California county had few COVID-19 cases, until an inmate transfer led to a large prison outbreak

Town’s Last Mill to Be Shut Down

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About The Times

“The Times” is made by columnist Gustavo Arellano, producer Shannon Lin, senior producers Steven Cuevas and Denise Guerra, executive producer Abbie Fentress Swanson and editor Julia Turner. Our engineer is Mario Diaz. Our intern is Ashlea Brown. Our theme song was composed by Andrew Eapen.