A state senator went to the Port of Los Angeles on Monday to listen to proposals to convert surplus ships into prison facilities, but he seemed to go away unconvinced by what he had heard.
California has cell space for 67,000 inmates and a projected prison population of 100,000 in five years, and Sen. Art Torres (D-Los Angeles) has proposed a prison ship as an alternative to a controversial proposal for an Eastside prison.
State Sen. Robert Presley (D-Riverside), chairman of the Joint Committee on Prison Construction and Operations, conducted the hearing, which drew businessmen from as far away as Virginia. They touted plans ranging from conversion of old oil tankers into prisons to construction of cell blocks from cargo containers stacked on a barge.
But state corrections officials harshly criticized the proposals, saying they were too expensive and did not provide enough security. And Presley said the plans must be further refined before his panel will request a feasibility study from the Department of Corrections.