California Governor Gavin Newsom recently announced the closure of a historic prison in the city of Susanville. According to allegations by the president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the Democratic governor allegedly made the decision for the sole purpose of targeting an area where conservative and Republican values prevail.

Newly appointed SEIU President Richard Louis Brown claimed Friday, July 9, in an interview with Fox News that Gov. Newsom is targeting Lassen County workers because the area, just northwest of Reno-Sparks, Nevada, is primarily Republican. In fact, in 2016, 73% of Lassen voters voted for Donald Trump; the highest margin in the state.

In Brown’s words, there can be no other motivation for closing the penitentiary other than political and dominated by rancor, considering that even the neighbors had good relations with the prisoners, especially after many of them had assisted in the past in extinguishing wildfires that hit hard in the area.

“The only reason this governor’s closing that prison down, because he is attacking small towns, he’s attacking people and their families because these people in Lassen County have conservative values that he disagrees with—and so he is mad—and since he is mad he wants to close their lives down, he wants to destroy them.” Brown said.

He then added, “My first fight is to make sure that our employees of all the public sector unions at the prison up there in Lassen County are protected and they don’t lose their job through no fault of their own.” 

The prison employs more than 1,000 people in a town with a population of less than 9,000, excluding prisoners. Residents rightly fear that the loss of such a large employer could have a ripple effect on other economic sectors in the region.

Brown seems to have a very different profile from most union authorities, in principle advocating the repression of the politicized nature of unions while seeking to reduce membership dues, which has generated many enemies in the leftist sectors that predominate in union circles.

At the same time, the governors of the city of Susanville announced that they plan to sue the administration of Governor Gavin Newsom for the proposed closure of the California State Prison in June 2022, which, according to the plaintiffs’ arguments, would devastate the local economy.

The reasoning used by the Newsom administration to determine the planned closure of the prison, which for years has been a center for training inmates to fight wildfires, was the large decline in the number of incarcerated Californians, exacerbated by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus pandemic, which resulted in the early release of thousands of inmates.

This is not the first time Governor Newsom has generated controversy over his policies regarding state prisons. In early May, Democratic legislators sympathetic to the state government announced the early release of tens of thousands of inmates, including violent and repeat offenders. Among the 76,000 eligible for release, at least 20,000 life sentenced inmates were included.

The new rules, which were announced overnight and without warning, went into effect immediately, but it could be several months before inmates are released, Fox News reported.

Prison officials say the goal is to reward inmates who seek to better themselves, while critics say the move will endanger society at large.

More than 63,000 inmates convicted of violent crimes will be eligible for good behavior credits, which shorten their sentences by one-third instead of one-fifth, as had been agreed to in the last sentence reduction in 2017. That includes nearly 20,000 inmates serving life sentences with the possibility of parole.

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