California State Prison, Centinela
|Location||Imperial County, California|
|Population||3,388 (146.8%) (as of 31 December 2012)|
|Managed by||California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation|
California State Prison, Centinela (CEN) is a male-only state prison located in Imperial County, California, approximately 20 miles (32 km) from Imperial and El Centro. The facility is sometimes referenced Centinela State Prison.
CEN is situated on 2,000 acres (810 ha). As of Fiscal Year 2007/2008, CEN had a total of 1,266 staff and an annual institutional operating budget of $161 million. As of December 2008, it had a design capacity of 2,383 but a total institution population of 5,097, for an occupancy rate of 213% percent. Of its housing units, 1 Level IV, and 3 Level III yards ("5 two tier buildings on each yard, 100 Double occupancy cells per building, razor wire cinder block/ chain link fenced perimeters and armed coverage") all surrounded by an additional electrified fence protected by two razor wire atop chain link fences and 1 Level I yard (2 buildings, open dormitory, maximum capacity of 200 inmates each, with secure chain link fence perimeter). Facility also includes a "CTC" ("Correctional Treatment Center", treating medical, dental, and mental health issues with an integrated hospital type area/ department)."ADSEG" (administrative segregation) has a maximum occupancy of 175, and a Firehouse (Centinela Fire Department, CEP is the three letter identifier) that houses 8 Level I inmates actively trained as structural/ wildland firefighters. Centinela Fire Department is part of the institutions rehabilitation program. It provides rigorous and accelerated training meeting state fire certification, equivalent to a volunteer structural/ wildland firefighter. A library facility was established in 2016. 
CEN is named after Cerro Centinela, the Spanish name for Mount Signal which straddles the U.S.-Mexico border. The prison opened in October 1993, approximately 22 months after Calipatria State Prison located approximately 40 miles (64 km) north.
A 1994 statute "require[d] the U.S. attorney general either to agree to compensate a state for incarcerating an illegal immigrant or to take the undocumented criminal into federal custody." In January 1996, the administration of Governor Pete Wilson "tested the law" by asking Immigration and Naturalization Service agents "to take custody of a 25-year-old illegal immigrant serving time in Centinela State Prison for drug offenses"; however, the agents refused. Therefore, in March 1996 Wilson sued the federal government to enforce the 1994 law.
As of 1997, CEN was the "most overcrowded prison in the state" as it ran at "259 percent of designed capacity." By 2007, however, Avenal State Prison was the California state prison system's "most overcrowded facility."
In August 2006, a quadriplegic inmate died after the air conditioning failed in a van carrying him and another inmate from California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison, Corcoran to CEN. According to a reporter's summary of statements by "the federal official now in control of medical care in the state's prison system," the death was "proof of a broken system"; according to the reporter's summary of statements by representatives of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the death was "a terrible event caused by happenstance."
- Offender Information Services Branch (3 January 2013). "Monthly Report of Population" (PDF). California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation: 2. Retrieved 15 January 2013.
- California State Board of Equalization. Prison Impact Study. Supplemental Report of the 2001 Budget Act for FY 2001-02. March 28, 2002.
- California State Prison, Centinela (CEN) (2009). "Mission Statement". California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Archived from the original on August 13, 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-20.
- California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Monthly Report of Population as of Midnight September 30, 2007.
- California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. California's Correctional Facilities. Accessed 24 Dec 2007.
- Holding, Reynolds. Wilson Sues Over Cost of Illegal Immigrants - Again. He says U.S. broke law by not accepting inmate. San Francisco Chronicle, March 6, 1996.
- Furillo, Andy. Pressures Building in State's 32 Prisons. Sacramento Bee, January 19, 1997.
- Furillo, Andy. Health care crisis behind bars: Three deaths in two months focus federal attention on state's most overcrowded facility. The Sacramento Bee, May 4, 2007.
- Martin, Mark. Inmate stuck in van for hours died in desert heat. The San Francisco Chronicle, November 17, 2006.