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Articles by Matt Tinoco

Inside the Small California Town with a Lot of Prisons, but Not Much Opportunity

Inside the Small California Town with a Lot of Prisons, but Not Much Opportunity

by Matt Tinoco

Adelanto, California is a small high desert town just a two-hour drive northeast of Los Angeles, but it feels a long, long way away from Southern California’s stereotypical palm trees and beaches.

This is a town, like many others around the country, that exists largely thanks to America’s overgrown prison industry. There are three incarceration facilities within its city limits, providing beds for up to 3,340 prisoners. Two of these facilities are privately owned and operated by GEO Group, one of the U.S.’s largest private prison operators. The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department operates the third. On Adelanto’s border with its neighbor city Victorville is a gigantic federal complex that’s home to another 4,600 prisoners.

In late November 2014, the town’s outgoing city council decided that they needed more prisons, approving by a vote of four to one plans for the construction of two new correctional facilities. One was to be a privately owned and operated 1,000-bed facility from GEO Group, and the other a $327 million, 3,264-bed facility developed independently by Doctor Crants, the co-founder of the private prison company Corrections Corporation of America, that’s ...