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California State Prison, Corcoran (COR) is a male-only state prison located in the city of Corcoranmarker, in Kings County, Californiamarker. 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, Corcoranmarker (Corcoran II) located just south of the facility.


As of Fiscal Year 2002/2003, COR had a total of 1,703 staff and an annual institutional budget of $115 million. As of September 2007, it had a design capacity of 3,116 but a total institution population of 5,685, for an occupancy rate of 182.4 percent.

COR's include the following facilities:
  • Level I housing – Open dormitories without a secure perimeter
  • Level III housing – 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 is 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." Only one violent incident occurred in the Protective Housing Unit, in 1999, "when a guard left a door open and three inmates from the secure housing unit next door attacked inmates Charles Manson and Juan Corona.
  • Acute care hospital.
  • Prison Industry Authority.


Built on what was once Tulare Lakemarker, home to the Yokut Native American people, the facility opened in 1988. The prison hospital was dedicated in October 1993.

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." At the time, COR officers had shot and killed more inmates "than any prison in the country" in COR's eight years of existence; 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." Furthermore, the article alleged that "officers... and their supervisors staged fights between inmates" during "gladiator days." 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."

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." 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."Holding, Reynolds. State Corrections Dept. Clears Itself in Probe of Corcoran Prison. The San Francisco Chronicle, November 27, 1997.

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. 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." After a trial, the eight men were "acquitted of all charges" in June 2000.

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

Notable inmates

The prison's most prominent inmates include:


  • Dana Ewell, convicted triple murderer, who ordered the murders of his family in 1992. Currently he is serving three life sentences and is appealing his sentences.

  • Cameron Hooker, convicted for the sexual assault and kidnapping of Colleen Stan (also known as "the girl in the box"). Hooker was sentenced 104 years imprisonment for holding Stan as his "sex slave" and will not be eligible for parole until 2022.

  • Charles Manson, who was transferred from San Quentin State Prisonmarker to COR in March 1989. In May 2007 he was denied parole and will not be eligible for release again until 2012. He lives in COR's Protective Housing Unit.

  • Phil Spector, convicted of murder in 2009 and serving 19 years to life; transfered to Corcoran in mid-2009. Spector is not housed at old Corcoran, but at SATF (Corcoran 2).



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