After a brief reprieve from the bloated conditions that plagued the state's prison system for years, the Central California Women's Facility outside Chowchilla has become the most crowded prison in the state.
As of Dec. 26, the facility housed 3,608 inmates, according to corrections officials. Designed for 2,004 beds, officials said, the state prison is at more than 180 percent of intended capacity.
Officials said the next most crowded prison is Avenal State Prison, also in the Central Valley, at 171 percent of design capacity.
More than a dozen groups from around the state -- including the California Coalition for Women Prisoners and Californians United for a Responsible Budget -- have organized a rally to protest the conditions.
"These cells were set up for two to four people max, and they're up to eight people again," said Colby Lenz, campaign coordinator for the coalition. "They're not enough resources in terms of hygiene. They're not getting cleaning supplies or tampons. It's a public health disaster."
The protest will be held at 3 p.m. Jan. 26 in front of Valley State Prison outside Chowchilla.
However, corrections officials dismissed the groups' concerns.
"We're not overcrowded," said Dana Simas, a California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokeswoman. "No inmate is being housed in nontraditional beds. We've been far more overcrowded than where we are now."
"At (the Central California Women's Facility), they have a brand new skilled nursing facility," she added. "So if there's any medical issues that arise, they're getting the medical attention they require."….Chowchilla women's prison squeezed - Local - MercedSun-Star.com