California State Prison, Corcoran

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California State Prison, Corcoran (CSP-COR)
CSP Corcoran.jpg
Location Corcoran, California
Coordinates 36°03′36″N 119°32′56″W / 36.060°N 119.549°W / 36.060; -119.549Coordinates: 36°03′36″N 119°32′56″W / 36.060°N 119.549°W / 36.060; -119.549
Status Operational
Security class Minimum–maximum
Capacity 3,116
Population 4,601 (147.7%) (as of 31 December 2012[1])
Opened February 1988
Managed by California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
Warden Dave Davey

California State Prison, Corcoran (COR) is a male-only state prison located in the city of Corcoran, in Kings County, California. Also known as Corcoran State Prison, CSP-C, CSP-COR, CSP-Corcoran, and Corcoran I, it should not be confused with the newer California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison, Corcoran (Corcoran II) located just south of the facility.[2][3][4]


As of Fiscal Year 2002/2003, COR had a total of 1,703 staff and an annual institutional budget of US$115 million.[2] As of March 2012, the facility's total population was 4,500, or more than of 144.4 percent of its design capacity of 3,116.[1]

– Individual cells, fenced perimeters and armed coverage

  • Level IV housing: Cells, fenced or walled perimeters, electronic security, more staff and armed officers both inside and outside the installation
  • Security Housing Units, "the most secure area[s] within a Level IV prison designed to provide maximum coverage". Among these units are the Protective Housing Unit which holds up to 47 prisoners who require "extraordinary protection from other prisoners". The Protective Housing Unit has been described as "strikingly calm" because inmates "don't want to be moved somewhere less guarded".[5] One violent incident occurred in March 1999 when three inmates attacked inmate Juan Corona, inflicting minor injuries, and smashed Charles Manson's guitar. Three other Protective Housing Unit inmates suffered minor injuries.[6]
  • Acute care hospital.
  • Prison Industry Authority.


Built on what was once Tulare Lake, home to the Yokut Native American people, the facility opened in 1988.[7][8] The prison hospital was dedicated in October 1993.[9]

A front-page article by Mark Arax in the August 1996 Los Angeles Times claimed that COR was "the most troubled of the 32 state prisons".[10] At the time, COR officers had shot and killed more inmates "than any prison in the country" in COR's eight years of existence. Seven inmates had been killed, and 50 others seriously wounded. Based on interviews and documents, Arax concluded that many shootings of prisoners were "not justified" and that in some cases "the wrong inmate was killed by mistake".[10] Furthermore, the article alleged that "officers... and their supervisors staged fights between inmates" during "gladiator days".[10] In November 1996, CBS Evening News broadcast "video footage of an inmate fatally shot by guards" at COR in 1994; this death "spawned a probe by the Federal Bureau of Investigation of alleged inmate abuses by guards".[11]

A March 1997 episode of the CBS News 60 Minutes discussed the 1994 death, "the alleged cover-up and the alarming number of shootings at the prison".[12] The California Department of Corrections issued the results of its own investigation in November 1997, which found "isolated incidents of staff misconduct" but no "'widespread staff conspiracy' to abuse prisoners".[13]

A film entitled Maximum Security University, which used prison surveillance tapes showing four 1989–1993 fights "end[ing] when a guard fatally shoots a combatant", was released in February 1998.[14] That month, eight California correctional officers and supervisors were indicted "on federal criminal civil rights charges in connection with inmate fights that occurred at Corcoran State Prison in 1994".[15] After a trial, the eight men were "acquitted of all charges" in June 2000.[16]

As of 1999 California had paid out several large prison brutality settlements for incidents at Corcoran, including $2.2 million to inmate Vincent Tulumis paralyzed for life in a May 1993 shooting, and $825,000 for the killing of Preston Tate in April 1994.[17]

Subsequently, COR has been featured in at least two episodes of MSNBC's Lockup series: "Inside Corcoran" (which first aired as early as 2003)[18] and "Return to Corcoran" (which first aired in 2005).[19]

High-profile inmates[edit]

The prison's most infamous inmates include:


  • James R. Mitchell Son of porn king James L Mitchell, who murdered his brother Artie, aka "The Mitchell Brothers" Sentenced in 2011, to 39 to life in the brutal baseball bat murder of his former girlfriend; Danielle Rosa Keller, in Novato, California on July 12, 2009.
  • Rodney Alcala: the "dating game killer." Sentenced to death in 1980, 1986, and 2010.
  • Juan Corona: murdered twenty-five people in 1971. He was transferred to COR from the Correctional Training Facility in 1992 and now lives in COR's Protective Housing Unit.[5][20][21]
  • Dana Ewell: a convicted triple murderer, he ordered the murders of his family in 1992. Currently serving three life sentences and is appealing his sentences.[22]
  • John Albert Gardner III: convicted of the murders of Chelsea King (2010) and Amber Dubois (2009).
  • Phillip Garrido: serial rapist and kidnapper, known for kidnapping 11-year-old Jaycee Lee Dugard and keeping her captive in his back yard for 18 years.
  • Charles Manson: transferred from San Quentin State Prison to COR in March 1989.[23] In April 2012, Manson was again denied parole. He will not be eligible again until 2027.[24]
  • Mikhail Markhasev: convicted murderer of Ennis Cosby, son of entertainer Bill Cosby.[25] In 1998, he received a sentence of life without parole, plus 10 years.[26]
  • John Floyd Thomas, Jr., serial rapist and killer


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Offender Information Services Branch (3 January 2013). "Monthly Report of Population" (PDF). California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation: 2. Retrieved 15 January 2013. 
  2. ^ a b California State Prison, Corcoran (CSP-COR) (2009). "Mission Statement". California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Archived from the original on August 6, 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-20. 
  3. ^ Office of the Governor, State of California. Governor Schwarzenegger Announces Appointments 08/24/07.
  4. ^ City of Corcoran, California. About Corcoran. Accessed 11 Dec 2007.
  5. ^ a b c Curtis, Kim. Even in prison Jackson would be 'star'. Daily Breeze (Torrance, CA), June 13, 2005.
  6. ^ "Inmates attack mas murderer Juan Corona, smash Manson's guitar". The Daily Sentinel (Pomeroy and Middleport, Ohio). March 16, 1999. Retrieved 9 September 2011. 
  7. ^ Broder, John M. Spun and Unspun Tales of a California Cotton King. The New York Times, January 8, 2004.
  8. ^ Good, Bob. First Inmates Arrive at Corcoran Prison. Fresno Bee, February 23, 1988.
  9. ^ Diaz, Sam. Corcoran Prison Opens Hospital Doors. It's Like Most Facilities, Except for the Armed Guards, Security Cameras and Grill Gates. The Fresno Bee, October 28, 1993.
  10. ^ a b c Arax, Mark. Tales of Brutality Behind Bars; Five officers claim staging of "gladiator days," other abuses at Corcoran State Prison. FBI is investigating facility, which has most killings of inmates in U.S. Los Angeles Times, August 21, 1996.
  11. ^ Podger, Pamela J. Video of Fatal Prison Shooting at Corcoran Stirs Controversy. The Fresno Bee, November 20, 1996.
  12. ^ "60 Minutes" Spotlights Corcoran. "Deadliest Prison" Segment Will Lead Off Sunday's Broadcast. Fresno Bee, March 29, 1997.
  13. ^ Holding, Reynolds. State Corrections Dept. Clears Itself in Probe of Corcoran Prison. The San Francisco Chronicle, November 27, 1997.
  14. ^ A Film Aims to Expose Prison Deaths. Private Investigator Hopes Corcoran Footage Stirs Debate, Reform. Fresno Bee, February 16, 1998.
  15. ^ United States Department of Justice. Eight Officers Indicted for Civil Rights Violations at Corcoran State Prison in California. February 26, 1998.
  16. ^ Bier, Jerry, et al. All 8 Corcoran Guards Acquitted. Applause Rocks the Courtroom After the Verdicts. Fresno Bee, June 10, 2000.
  17. ^
  18. ^ Primetime mailing list. New Year's Day Programming on America's Newschannel MSNBC. The Mail Archive, January 1, 2003.
  19. ^ MSNBC - "Lockup: Return to Corcoran" on TV tonight (01/07/06) (discussion thread).
  20. ^ Juan Corona denied parole for 2nd time. San Diego Union, June 24, 1987.
  21. ^ a b Grossi, Mark. Corcoran Prison Home to Who's-Who of Killers. The List of Infamous Murderers at the State Facility has Grown This Week to Include Sirhan Sirhan and Juan Corona. The Fresno Bee, June 5, 1992.
  22. ^ Swinton, Nate. Appealing to God. The Santa Clara, May 23, 2002.
  23. ^ Lopez, Pablo. Charles Manson Transferred to Corcoran Prison. Fresno Bee, March 16, 1989.
  24. ^ "Charles Manson Quickly Denied Parole". LA Times. April 11, 2012. Retrieved April 11, 2012. 
  25. ^ Siemaszko, Corky. Scott's Fate Still in Limbo. New York Daily News, December 11, 2004.
  26. ^ Berry, Steve. Cosby’s Killer Gets Life in Prison. Los Angeles Times, August 12, 1998
  28. ^ Katz, Jesse. Reputed Mexican Mafia Leader Dies in Prison at 64. Los Angeles Times, November 10, 1993.
  29. ^ Wilstein, Steve. Sirhan denied parole for 10th time in RFK killing. Daily Breeze (Torrance, CA), May 24, 1989.
  30. ^ Barbassa, Juliana. Robert Kennedy killer denied parole. Daily Breeze (Torrance, CA), March 16, 2006.
  31. ^ Deutsch, Linda. Robert F. Kennedy's killer is moved to new site. Associated Press, November 2, 2009.
  32. ^ Monica Garske, RFK killer Sirhan Sirhan moved to another prison — on anniversary of JFK assassination, (November 22, 2013). Retrieved on November 23, 2013.

External links[edit]