TAFT, CA - Taft's Community Correctional Facility will reopen within the next two months. The city council approved a contract with L.A. County Tuesday to house its inmates. The agreement will bring back dozens of job and millions of dollars to the city of Taft.
Taft's Correctional Facility has sat empty for two years, but now it's about to reopen.
"This is a huge weight lifted off our shoulders," said Taft Mayor, Paul Linder.
In a unanimous vote, the Taft City Council approved a contract with L.A. County to house up to 512 low-level offenders for the next five years.
"It's a relief. It's a big relief," said Taft Police Chief Ed Whiting. "Personally, I don't see why a jail should sit empty."
The state stopped housing inmates in the facility in November 2011, which cost the city money and jobs. Now, most of that is coming back.
According to the contract, Taft will add about 62 positions and get more than $11 million a year from L.A. County.
"This is good for them. It's good for us. It's also good for the inmates," said Chief Whiting.
Taft's Police Chief said it's good because the extra bed space will allow L.A. County to ease its jail overcrowding, and the inmates in Taft will have the option to work in the community like Kern County inmates, either picking up trash or doing road work.
"It gives the inmates something to do except sit in the cell all day," said Chief Whiting. "They'll get to work, and they'll get credit towards their release."
A work release Taft couldn't have done if they would have agreed to house the state inmates the California Department of Corrections wanted to send to Taft.
"It's just a better deal, and we're trying to the do the best for the community," said Mayor Linder.
"It took a lot of work on both ends and we're finally happy it's come together," said Chief Whiting.
Inmates could start coming to Taft as soon as November 18.