List of Top 13 Best Prisons In The State Of California

Let's know about 13 Best Prisons In The State Of California.

There are many prisons in California, but not all are equally built. Some are famous for their tough security measures, and others receive praise for their rehabilitation programs. But today we will only look at the top 13 best prisons in the state of California.

Prisons in our list were graded according to a variety of factors, including ensuring society safety, staff-to-inmate behavior, educational and occupational programs, and inmate health care.

This list will provide useful information about some of California’s most successful prisons. So, here we go.

Top 13 Best Prisons In The State Of California

These 13 Prisons in California are considered the Best in the State.

01. High Desert State Prison (California)

Opened1995
StatusOperational
Security LevelMaximum, Supermax
Capacity2,324
Current Population1,823
Managed ByCalifornia Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

Here’s Why It’s Considered as Best

In Susanville, California, the High Desert State Prison was established in 1995. It was made to house 2,324 inmates. However, as of July 2022, there are 1,823 (78.4%) offenders. This maximum to supermax prison’s warden is Fred Foulk. 

This particular correctional facility is considered one of California’s best prisons for inmates as it provides several rehabilitation programs to help them re-enter society after serving their sentence. 

 These programs include educational options, career training, addiction therapy, and mental health assistance. High Desert inmates also benefit from a low staff-to-inmate ratio, enabling more personalized care and support.

High Desert State Prison is dedicated to giving offenders the tools they need to have productive and fulfilled lives after release.

02. California State Prison (LAC)

Opened1993
StatusOperational
Security LevelMaximum, Supermax
Capacity2,300
Current Population2,322
Managed ByCalifornia Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

Here’s Why It’s Considered as Best

In February 1993, California State Prison was built in Los Angeles County, California. Since it’s a minimum and maximum security level prison, both less and violent criminals are housed here. 

Although the correctional facility’s capacity of keeping Inmates is 2,300, it is housing 2,322 offenders. This doesn’t make the place overpopulated, as only 0.9% of extra inmates are kept. 

California State Prison, LAC prioritizes inmates’ and employees’ safety and security. This way, it also ensures public safety.

Furthermore, the prison provides various rehabilitation programs, like educational opportunities and job skills training, to assist offenders in preparing for successful re-entry into society.

Overall, California State Prison, Los Angeles County, is committed to providing inmates with a safe and disciplined environment.

03. Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP)

Opened1989
StatusOperational
Security LevelSupermax
Capacity2,380
Current Population1,654
Managed ByCalifornia Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

Here’s Why It’s Considered as Best

Pelican Bay State Prison is situated in Crescent City, Del Norte County, California. This outstanding prison is great at fulfilling its duties. It ensures the prison is not overpopulated, so there are only 1,654 inmates instead of 2,380. 

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It means it housed only 69.4% of its total housing ability. It was made in 1989. From December 2022, Stephen Smith will be the warden of Pelican Bay State Prison. 

This supermax prison gives its best to make its inmates learn morality and ethics through studying different subjects, including religion. It also gives proper medical attention and hygienic food to the prisoners. 

04. California Institution for Men (CIM)

Opened1941
StatusOperational
Security LevelMinimum, Maximum
Capacity2,976
Current Population3,135
Managed ByCalifornia Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

Here’s Why It’s Considered as Best

The California Institution for Men’s Warden is James Hill. It was built in Chino, California, in 1941. It has minimum and maximum security levels. 

At present, the population of this correctional facility is 3,135, which is only 5.3% more than its holding capacity (which is 2,976). James Hill is the warden of the prison.

Count this prison as one of the best in California as it actually puts effort into educating inmates and works to earn for them. They are taught to make various products that help them earn from prison and after getting released.

05. Pleasant Valley State Prison (PVSP)

Opened1994
StatusOperational
Security LevelMinimum, Maximum
Capacity2,308
Current Population2,688
Managed ByCalifornia Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

Here’s Why It’s Considered as Best

Pleasant Valley State Prison came into existence in 1994. It has 2,688 inmates. But its holding capacity is less, which is 2,308 prisoners. Pleasant Valley State Prison’s warden is Scott A. Frauenheim. 

This correctional institution has been excellently protecting society from dangerous criminals by housing them under tight security. There’s no way an inmate can escape. 

Besides, they don’t make the environment inside the prison harsh for the prisoners, whether he’s a minimum or maximum security convict. Also, inmates can easily enroll to study further. 

Some academic programs include GED, Literacy Programs, Adult Basic Education, and Pre-release Education. Other great programs include computer courses and religious and arts-related courses. 

06. California State Prison, Solano (SOL)

Opened1984
StatusOperational
Security LevelMedium
Capacity2,610
Current Population3,655
Managed ByCalifornia Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

Here’s Why It’s Considered as Best

Built in 1984, California State Prison in Solano is currently housing 3,655 prisoners. However, its ability to keep inmates is 2,610. 

This, of course, makes it an overpopulated prison with a different population of 24.7%. Still, this medium security level prison is considered the best for many reasons. 

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The first reason is it thinks for its inmates. They offer them academic and workplace learning programs to ensure the prisoners can live normally after release. 

They are given GED courses and adult primary education. It’s unknown what vocational programs they offer, but understandably, there will be almost similar work programs that other prisons in California offer.

07. Folsom State Prison (FSP)

Opened1880
StatusOperational
Security LevelMinimum, Medium
Capacity2,066
Current Population2,664
Managed ByCalifornia Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

Here’s Why It’s Considered as Best 

Folsom State Prison in Folsom holds minimum to medium-level prisoners. It can hold 2,066 men and 403 women offenders. 

But the population of men’s units is more than the population of women’s. The number of male inmates is 2,664 (28.9% more). But the number of female offenders is 243 (39.8% less).

It’s one of the oldest correctional institutions in the United States, but it is the first prison that gained electricity before any other prison. FSP has many special programs to offer to its inmates. 

Some are educational, some are vocational, and some are industrial. The “California Prison Industry Authority (CALPIA) is a unique program that teaches inmates metal fabrication, license plate making, maintenance, and more.

08. California City Correctional Facility (CAC)

Opened2006
StatusOperational
Security LevelLow, Medium
Capacity2,304
Current Population2,081
Managed ByCalifornia Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

Here’s Why It’s Considered as Best 

California City Correctional Facility in Virginia Blvd, California, is special because it helped many released offenders positively change their lives. It was established in 2006 with low to medium-level security. 

The prison maintains a lot of things, especially the population. It has fewer offenders than its actual housing capacity. It was made to keep 2,304 inmates, but there are 2,081 prisoners, to be exact. So it used 90.3% only from its total housing ability. 

Many released prisoners from California City Correctional Facility can now control their alcohol and drug addiction, and they’re working to earn money with the skills they’ve learned from different work training. 

Life skills training is one great training that makes the inmate skilled and productive. Other helpful programs include religious services, criminal thinking programs, cognitive behavioral therapy, and offender management programs.

09. California State Prison, Centinela (CEN)

Opened1993
StatusOperational
Security LevelMinimum, Maximum
Capacity2,308
Current Population2,906
Managed ByCalifornia Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

Here’s Why It’s Considered as Best 

California State Prison in Centinela is a 20th-century modern correctional facility that can hold minimum to maximum-level offenders. It was built in 1993 with a holding capacity of 2,308 prisoners. 

But its current population is 2,906, meaning it has 25.9% additional offenders. This, indeed, makes the prison pretty crowded. At present, Raymond Madden is the warden of this correctional facility. 

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This prison is one of the best in California as it offers some excellent educational and occupation courses that help the inmates finish their education and build them as productive enough to join the work fields. This is why it’s another of the best prisons in California.

 10. Avenal State Prison (ASP)

Opened1987
StatusOperational
Security LevelMinimum, Medium
Capacity2,920
Current Population4,062
Managed ByCalifornia Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

Here’s Why It’s Considered as Best 

In the early 1980s, the people of Avenal state felt the need for a prison. Hence, in 1987, the Avenal State Prison was built to keep 2,920 prisoners. It houses minimum to maximum-level criminals. 

It’s an overpopulated correctional institution with a total of 4,062 inmates, which is 39.1% additional. Still, it’s regarded as an excellent prison for its efforts in inmate rehabilitation. 

The Avenal State Prison inmates are able to join some programs that assist them in controlling their drug desires, mental stress, and complete studying.

They can apply for GED. Since the prison is operating such life-changing programs, it’s a great prison in California.

11. California Correctional Center (CCC)

Opened1963
StatusOperational
Security LevelMinimum, Medium
Capacity3,883
Current Population2,308
Managed ByCalifornia Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

Here’s Why It’s Considered as Best 

California Correctional Center is located in Susanville, California. It was made in 1963. There are minimum and medium security levels. This correctional facility kept fewer offenders so that the place doesn’t get overcrowded.

To keep its name away from criticism, it’s housing 2,308 prisoners while being able to house 3,883 inmates (only 59.4% of its actual capacity.

For inmates, it provides many different courses such as self-help, academic, vocational, and more. Some vocational programs include electrical techniques, auto body construction, building maintenance, and office technology.

Some educational programs are high school, literacy and computer programs, and adult basic education. 

Some self-help programs include Veterans in Prison, alcoholics anonymous, violence program support, and more. The California Correctional Center’s warden is Suzanne Peery. 

12. California Men’s Colony (CMC)

Opened1954
StatusOperational
Security LevelMinimum, Medium, Maximum
Capacity3,838
Current Population3,414
Managed ByCalifornia Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

Here’s Why It’s Considered as Best 

California Men’s Colony in San Luis  Obispo County came into existence in 1954. It generally keeps minimum to maximum security level offenders. 

However, it also houses maximum security level prisoners if needed. Three thousand eight hundred thirty-eight inmates can be housed in CMC, but there are 3,414 offenders (88.9% only). This tells how regulated the prison is. 

The California Men’s Colony has to offer its prisoners some excellent courses to make them shine after leaving the prison. The PIA program teaches inmates many jobs like knitting mill, equipment, and healthcare facility maintenance. 

Some career technical educations are auto mechanics, computer technology, electrical works, etc. Inmates are also provided academic programs such as e-learning, GED/HSD, and college degree opportunities.

13. California State Prison, Corcoran (COR)

Opened1988
StatusOperational
Security LevelMinimum, Maximum
Capacity3,116
Current Population3,440
Managed ByCalifornia Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

Here’s Why It’s Considered as Best 

Our final pick as one of the best prisons in California is the California State Prison. In 1988 California State Prison in Cocoran was made. With minimum to maximum security, it holds 3,440 prisoners (10.3% more). 

However, it shouldn’t keep inmates more than 3,116 as this is the actual housing ability of the correctional institution. Ken Clark has been working as the prison’s warden. It’s best for several reasons. 

For example, This prison ensures its prisoners develop their behavioral activities and get productive. Hence, it’s one of the best prisons in California.

It also provides mental health care, so several previously released criminals lead positive lives with good mental conditions.

Final Words

The State of California has some of the top correctional facilities in America. These correctional facilities have top-notch technology, helpful programs, and hardworking staff members who give their best to encourage inmate rehabilitation and lower recidivism rates.

While each prison has different features, they all strive to provide a safe and secure environment for the public and employees.

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