High-tech prison has
guards galore, but no inmates

prison cafeteria

May 17, 1996
Web posted at: 8:35 a.m. EDT

From Correspondent Charles Feldman

LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- Los Angeles has a sparkling new jail where the guards spend their time keeping people from busting in. That's because there's no one inside to bust out.

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The Twin Towers Correctional Facility in Los Angeles, built at a cost of nearly $400 million, is a monument to state-of-the-art prison technology. There is one small catch, though.

"They got the revenue to build the facility, but because L.A. county and actually the whole state of California lived through a tough recession over the last few years, there's no revenue to operate it," said Joel Fox of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

Carter quote

In other words, there are no inmates, and no indication when there may ever be any inmates. It's too bad, since there is certainly no shortage of guards.


"I walk around, check doors, make sure no one is trying to get into the facility," said Deputy Kerry Carter of the L.A. County Sheriff's Department. "Basically, I had one incident when someone did run through the gates, that was kinda interesting. I got all fired up and happy, but that was basically it."

Another problem which occupies their time is flushing the brown gook out of the jail's mostly unused plumbing system.

For some, the 1.2 million-square-foot complex is a bit like a penal Club Med.

"It is kind of nice because you don't have the smells and the attitudes and just the general behavior of an inmate. It kind of gives you a rest," said Deputy Loreen Lopez of the L.A. County Sheriff's Department.

This may all seem a bit weird, considering the rest of the jails in Los Angeles are so overcrowded, they're actually letting people out early to make room.


"I have a sense of humor, but not about it," said Sheriff Sherman Block of Los Angeles County. "It concerns me greatly that the system is not functioning as it was designed to function."

This being Hollywood and all, the jail isn't exactly sitting idle. It makes a swell movie set, as Sean Connery discovered when he recently filmed his new flick "The Rock" here.

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