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Coalinga State Hospital is a state mental hospital in Coalinga, Californiamarker.

The facility opened on September 5, 2005 and was California’s newest state hospital, the first to be constructed in the state in more than 50 years. It was built to ensure that sexually violent predators stayed out of the community. The hospital is home to fifty mentally ill offenders from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), with the rest of the patients made up of men committed under the sexually violent predator (SVP) laws (first Megan's Law and later Jessica's Law), where the men are deemed too likely to reoffend to be released and are housed indefinitely at the hospital until they engage in and complete rigorous sex offender treatment and agree to rigid conditional parole requirements.

About the facility

The state began construction on Coalinga State Hospital in the fall of 2001. According to the hospital's official Web site, CSH has 1.2 million gross square feet (gsf) of floor space. This includes 900,000 gsf for clinical services and programs, 158,000 gsf for support services, 75,000 gsf for administration, and 67,000 gsf for plant operations.

The hospital is located at the edge of the Coastal Mountain Range in the heart of California just outside the City of Coalinga, nestled up against the adjacent Pleasant Valley State Prisonmarker. Coalinga is located ten miles west of Interstate 5. It is four hours north of Los Angelesmarker, two hours south of San Franciscomarker, and about one hour southwest of Fresnomarker, California's sixth largest city.

The hospital uses a five-phase treatment program for SVPs that was developed when SVPs were still mostly all treated at Atascadero State Hospital. The rigorous program focuses on helping SVPs manage their impulses, take responsibility for their actions, and see their crimes and victims from a realistic perspective.

Intake and Occupancy

Inmates are committed to Coalinga State Hospital within six months of the end of their prison terms . Currently, California law allows SVPs to be committed to the hospital indefinitely (under Jessica's Law) as long as they are receiving 'treatment'. 75% of the 600-plus inmates refuse treatment, which is intensive, and requires admission of guilt and the use of institutionally mandated language, as well as polygraph and phallometric testing. As of November 2007, 26 of the 37 budgeted staff psychiatrist positions were vacant, with some inmates having to camp out waiting for a clinician to show up. As of April 2009 the facility had released only 13 inmates in its history.

Louis Theroux BBC documentary

The hospital formed the basis of a Louis Theroux BBC television documentary entitled A Place for Paedophiles, in which the lives of once convicted paedophiles are documented, whilst being indefinitely incarcerated at the hospital until further notice. The hour long programme aired for the first time on BBC Two in the United Kingdom on 19 April 2009, as the seventh in a series of Theroux specials.


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