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High Desert State Prison (California)

High Desert State Prison (HDSP) is a high-security state prison that houses level IV inmates located in Susanville, Lassen County, California.[2][3] Opened in 1995, it has a capacity of 2,324 persons; in May 2017 it held 3,788 inmates.

High Desert State Prison (HDSP)
Seal of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.png
Aerial View
LocationSusanville, California
Coordinates40°24′30″N 120°30′50″W / 40.4084°N 120.5139°W / 40.4084; -120.5139Coordinates: 40°24′30″N 120°30′50″W / 40.4084°N 120.5139°W / 40.4084; -120.5139
Security classMaximum-Supermax
Population3,442 (148.1%) (as of 31 December 2012[1])
OpenedAugust 1995
Managed byCalifornia Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
WardenFred Foulk

Also located in Susanville is the state California Correctional Center, a minimum-security prison. A third prison facility, the Federal Correctional Institution, Herlong, is also located within Lassen County, California. Half the adult population of Susanville works at these prisons. The prisons and their effects on the community, including as a source of much needed jobs, were explored in the documentary, Prison Town, USA (2007), aired on PBS.[4]



Location of Susanville within Lassen County, and Lassen County within California

In late 2015 the state Office of the Inspector General completed a six-month investigation into conditions at the prison, after complaints of officer misconduct and prisoner abuse, and issued its report, calling for changes at the facility. Although there are buildings to house certain inmates in protective custody, such as sex offenders, officers put other prisoners near them. The inmates are mostly minorities and complained about discriminatory treatment, as well as officers allowing drug sales and violent retaliation; the officers are mostly white. The prison has had a rapid turnover in top management for nearly a decade, with seven wardens in eight years. In their report investigators wrote there was a "perception of insularity and indifference to inmates" at High Desert, exacerbated by its remoteness and "a labor organization that opposes oversight to the point of actively discouraging members from coming forward with information that could … adversely affect another officer."[5]

Notable inmatesEdit


  1. ^ Offender Information Services Branch (3 January 2013). "Monthly Report of Population" (PDF). California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation: 2. Retrieved 15 January 2013. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  2. ^ "Susanville city, California Archived 2012-10-20 at" U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on September 25, 2011.
  3. ^ "High Desert State Prison." California Department of Corrections. Retrieved on September 25, 2011. "475-750 Rice Canyon Rd. Susanville, CA"
  4. ^ "Prison Town, USA". Making Contact. Season 11. Episode 31. 2008-07-30. External link in |title= (help)
  5. ^ "State investigators cite culture of abuse, racism by High Desert State Prison guards", Paige St. John, LA Times, 16 December 2015; accessed 26 June 2016

External linksEdit