Local

Mendota's new federal prison opens soon

Thursday, January 19, 2012

After years of funding delays the federal prison in Mendota will finally open by the end of the month. The new federal prison is a $235 million facility that will open after it was delayed because of funding problems.

The 960 acre medium-security prison for men is enclosed with a 12 foot high razor wire fence. Inside the facility, inmates will have access to educational programs where they'll be able to work toward their GED and gain vocational training. Prisoners will also be required to work on a number of duties ranging from food preparation in the dining hall to maintenance work.

And when inmates aren't working or in the classroom, they'll likely be out in the recreation yard, where they have basketball courts, a soccer field and a track.

The inmates will sleep in a seven by twelve foot cell complete with toilet and sink. They will have access to a common area where they can watch basic cable TV, work out a sweat and shower.

Families will be able to visit on weekends and federal holidays, and that means a boom for local businesses. "We've had some customers at our motel to come visit their family members there," said Joseph Amador, who runs a motel in Mendota. He says he's already seen more visitors since a low-security satellite prison opened in August.

The federal institution has already hired more than 200 staff but are looking for more and the city wants those new hires to be locals. "We want more local people, it's obvious that the people are going to come from everywhere but we're pushing more for local and they can see that's why they're coming around to work with people to say, hey, this is what it takes to qualify," said Mendota Mayor Robert Silva.

Anything that will give a much needed boost to a city suffering from double-digit unemployment.

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Tags:
fresno county, mendota, firebaugh, san joaquin, kerman, fresno, local, carlos saucedo
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